Luther has been criticised by BBC diversity chief, Miranda Wayland, for lacking an authentic Black experience.

Detective programme, Luther was a critical and commercial triumph. The show not only furthered Idris Elba’s stardom but also picked up multiple awards and accolades.

Despite this success, BBC executive Miranda Wayland has noted that the show does not present an authentic Black experience.

What was said?

Wayland praised the show, but also probed deeper questions.

The Times reported that during the MIPTV conference the executive noted:

“When it first came out everybody loved the fact that Idris Elba was in there — a really strong, Black character lead.”

“We all fell in love with him. Who didn’t, right? But after you got into about the second series, you got kind of like, OK, he doesn’t have any Black friends, he doesn’t eat any Caribbean food, this doesn’t feel authentic.”

“It’s about making sure that everything around them — their environment, their culture, the set — is absolutely reflective.”

Discourse

It is part of Wayland’s role to address these issues.

The executive said when they took the role:

“I’m thrilled to be working with June to help drive the creative diversity strategy for the BBC, ensuring the diverse voices and talents within our industry are included and better reflected across our outputs and productions.”

It appears that Wayland is continuing to fulfil the duties of their job.

Neil Cross, who created Luther, previously addressed how he wrote the character of the titular character. The creator of the show claimed that they wrote the character without a race in mind.

Cross stated:

“I have no knowledge or expertise or right to try to tackle in some way the experience of being a Black man in modern Britain.”

“It would have been an act of tremendous arrogance for me to try to write a Black character. We would have ended up with a slightly embarrassed, ignorant, middle-class, white writer’s idea of a Black character.”

With this in mind, it is unsurprising that the character does not engage with the black community. Fortunately, the BBC is committed to delivering programming that does.

BBC Statement

The BBC responded to the comments of Wayland and noted its more recent programming:

Luther is a multi-award winning crime drama series and the iconic role of DCI John Luther has become one of TV’s most powerful detective characters of which we are tremendously proud.”

‘The BBC is committed to its continued investment in diversity and recent BBC One dramas I May Destroy You and Small Axe are testament to that.”

Going forward

It seems that the BBC is keen to make more authentic programming. Furthermore, it appears that the channel is not afraid to reflect on the areas it can improve.

What do you think of Luther?

Images via Alamy