The BBC’s diversity chief Miranda Wayland says “Luther” — the broadcaster’s hit crime series starring Idris Elba — isn’t “authentic” when it comes to storytelling surrounding its Black lead.
Elba’s DCI John Luther “doesn’t have any Black friends, he doesn’t eat any Caribbean food, this doesn’t feel authentic,” she says.
“It’s great having those big landmark shows with those key characters, but it’s about making sure everything around them, their environment, their culture, the set is absolutely reflective,” Wayland says, explaining the BBC’s diversity and inclusion strategy during the digital MIPTV conference. “It will be very much about how can we make sure that this program is authentic in terms of the storytelling.”
However, fans on Twitter are calling out Wayland’s statement:
So Luther wasn’t diverse because he wasn’t a stereotype? pic.twitter.com/Fu4puqsFec
— James Bembridge (@TheBembridge) April 14, 2021
“Luther isn't black enough to be real because he doesn't have any black friends and doesn't eat any Caribbean food”
When you see groups through the prism of stereotypes this is the insulting outcome. Would she prefer to see Luther dunk basketball hoops at the end of every scene? https://t.co/s6esjoCMbQ
— Chris Rose (@ArchRose90) April 14, 2021
Yesterday, it was implied I’m not black enough because I didn’t have any black friends in my photo.
Today, BBC’s diversity chief says @idriselba’s Luther “isn’t black enough” because “he doesn’t have any black friends”.
— Calvin Robinson (@calvinrobinson) April 14, 2021
I just read the BBC's head of diversity Miranda Wayland says Idris Elba's TV character Luther isn't black enough to be real because he doesn't have black friends or eat Caribbean food. Just because Luther likes pie 'n' mash instead of jerk chicken doesn't make him any less black!
— BermondseyBoy5.0 (@LovelyGeezer65) April 14, 2021
The police turn on Luther every chance they get. How is that NOT an authentic black character?
— Femi😷 (@Femi_Sorry) April 14, 2021
While “Luther” may not feel “authentic” in terms of storytelling for Wayland, a spokesperson for the BBC tells CNN the broadcaster is “tremendously proud” of the award-winning series, which ran for five seasons from 2010 to 2019. The BBC also points to Michaela Coel’s “I May Destroy You” and the Steve McQueen-directed “Small Axe” series of short films as examples of commitment to diversity.
Last year, the BBC committed to spending £112 million to support diverse productions over three years, as well as to have one-fifth of production staff from diverse backgrounds.
ET Canada has reached out to Elba’s rep for comment.