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UK: Idris Elba Calls Out MPs On Racism On British Tele

By Published January 18, 2016

Actor, Idris Elba has slammed the lack of multiculturalism in the UK TV industry saying "there is more diversity in Ford Dagenham".

The Wire actor, 43, was addressing Parliament about the importance of creative industries to the British economy. He said he got his first break in the creative industries from the Prince's Trust -"the Britain I come from is the most successful, diverse, multicultural country on the earth", but you "wouldn't know it if you turned on the TV".

The Hackney born star, also known for his role in Luther, called for "imagination" and "diversity of thought" in Britain's creative industries. While acknowledging he got his first break in the creative industries from the Prince Charles’ Charity - Prince's Trust.

He said: "Yes, good old Prince Charles came in there.”The Prince's Trust subsidised one of my first jobs with the National Music Youth Theatre. They gave me £1,500, because my parents didn't have enough money."

He added: "There were hardly any black kids, because none of us could afford it

Elba said: "I'm a product of my imagination.

Elba had the audience in fits of laughter when he lightened the mood with some wit throughout his speech.

"A long time after I left school, someone explained to me what the Magna Carta was.

"Now for people in your industry, Magna Carta is the basis of modern democracy.

"And for people in the music industry, it is an album by Jay Z," he joked.

"So Magna Carta was a peace treaty between the kings and the barons. Shout out to the barons in the room," he said, provoking chuckles.

He then added: "These jokes are horrible."

Getting back to his point, he said: "In a funny way, broadcasting needs a Magna Carta.

"We need to start doing things more fairly.

"It's not so much a peace treaty; but an opportunity treaty.

"We need to count up what everybody has, see the lay of the land, and see who has which careers in TV.

"Who makes TV? Who's allowed on TV?

"And when they get the opportunity, which roles do they play, off and on screen.

"Are black people normally playing petty criminals?

"Are women always the love interest or talking about men?

"Are gay people always stereotyped?

"Are disabled people ever seen at all?

"Do some people have their careers taken away on a whim?

"Is their talent unfairly ignored?"

In conclusion, Elba said: "So my message today is, let's just get more professional about this whole area.

"I was made in Hackney. Made in Newham. Made in Dagenham. But above all, I was made in my mind: I'm seeing it, thinking it, doing it."

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