Is the BBC still “hideously white”?

Farrukh Dhondy in New Statesman:

BbcThe movement of labour from the ex-colonies to Britain began in earnest in the late Fifties and early Sixties. There were no social or political plans, no vision for their integration into British society. They were left to find or form their own ghettos, to work the night shifts and the Underground, clean the streets, nurse the sick in hospitals, conduct the buses of the big cities and, in time, set up the mosque-and-mill enclaves of the midlands and the north and, aided by municipal socialism, the crime-prone vertical slums of London. The first liberal impulse of the broadcasters was directed towards the Asian peasantry, the Indians and Pakistanis who came in the largest numbers from the Punjab, from Mirpur in what is now Pakistani Kashmir and from Bangladesh, then East Pakistan. The BBC’s first instinct was “integration” – teaching the newcomers to accommodate to British ways and British society – how to get about using the language, how not to bargain at supermarket counters but pay the price that the till rang up and elementary rules of etiquette. They ran programmes with well-intentioned, patronising titles such as Apnaa Hi Ghar Samajhye which means Consider It Your Home – “it” meaning Britain. There were other programmes in which white and Asian neighbours befriended each other and cultures rubbed along with pointed explanation, again with the aim of instructing the immigrant to feel at home. A famous programme was Padosi, Hindustani for Neighbours – years before the Ozzies named their soap.

Television didn’t consider that West Indians needed instructional programming to assist the assimilation. Black (or was it “coloured”?) characters went straight into situation comedies in bit or secondary parts. One or two Asian characters crept into Newcomers, a soap whose “native” writers, unfamiliar with the idiom of the newcomers relied on the uncertain advice of the rare black or Asian Rada-trained actor.

More here.