Urgent Discussions!


The BBC reports today that the producer of the United Kingdom’s TV drama, Midsomer Murders

has been suspended after saying the drama “wouldn’t work” if there was racial diversity in the show.

Brian True-May, who co-created the series, told the Radio Times the long-running drama was a “last bastion of Englishness” and should stay that way.

Production company All3Media told the BBC Mr True-May had been suspended pending an internal investigation.

ITV said it was “shocked and appalled” by the producer’s comments.

“We are in urgent discussions with All3Media...who have informed us that they have launched an immediate investigation into the matter,” a spokesman added.

I cannot help but feel amusement at the thought that Englishness—imagine that!—is shocking and appalling to one of the country’s main television networks—something meriting “urgent [top-level] discussions”. Urgent discussions!

Quick! Englishness has been identified! Undiluted in a television drama! We must eradicate it! Fire everyone involved! Apologise, on our knees! Investigate, thoroughly! Get right down to the molecular level. And either cancel the show or re-cast it in its entirety. Never mind the show’s setting. Never mind demography in rural England (that will have to change anyway). Never mind the audience—7 million English folk. They do not count; their money is no good. They are, after all… English… Racist, bigoted, backward, tea-swilling, scone-munching, English-speaking, English scum.

The BBC report continues,

Mr True-May told the magazine: "We are a cosmopolitan society in this country, but if you watch Midsomer you wouldn't think so.

"I've never been picked up on that, but quite honestly I wouldn't want to change it," he said.

Of his all-white portrayal of rural life in Britain's murder capital he said: "Maybe I'm not politically correct."

The programme—which has run for 14 series—appealed to a "certain audience", he said.

Mr True-May added: "We just don't have ethnic minorities involved. Because it wouldn't be the English village with them. It just wouldn't work."

Asked why "Englishness" could not include other races who are well represented in modern society, he said: "Well, it should do, and maybe I'm not politically correct.

"I'm trying to make something that appeals to a certain audience, which seems to succeed. And I don't want to change it."

Well, evidently, Mr. True-May failed to realise who it is that puts food on his plate. Reality is irrelevant; he is a producer, and it is therefore his job to produce an acceptable version of reality, not to depict it. Even a five-year-old knows that.

The BBC’s report offers the all-important piece of data that ought to have been addressed years ago:

A study in 2006 found the programme to be “strikingly unpopular” with viewers from ethnic minorities.

Of course, while this may appear to argue against the viability of strategies for racial integration, since it appears to betray some difficulty among ethnic minorities identifying with Englishness, the problem is easy to solve: just eliminate the English. Mr. True-May ought to have thought of it. But he refused. How did a man like this last so long undetected in the industry?

Some good points are made:

However Ash Atalla, producer of sitcoms The Office and the IT crowd, said it was a “generational thing”, where people of a certain age liked to believe that "Englishness" was all-white.

“Midsomer Murders is not for someone like me. I'm too young and I find the show rather dull,” he said.

Exactly. White is old and boring; dark is young and exciting. Midsomer Murders may have 7 million viewers, but they are unimportant. Who listens to a bunch of old coots? Old coots like the ones that live in those awful English villages, without a single Black face in sight? In time, thankfully, they will die out, as Tim Wise aptly pointed out in America, so the show may as well embrace the rainbow utopia of human brotherhood now, and start the bulldozer on that last bastion of Englishness. Flatten it now, concrete it over, so that the progressive tower of tomorrow may rise.

Judiciously, Atalla points out

“We have to be careful about seeking out something that offends us and then complaining. I would not want the viewers of Midsomer Murders complaining about something I liked.”

Yes. No need to overplay one’s hand. We would not want these pale-faced English villagers to start noticing things about the diverse metropolitan class.

At least there are some right-thinking citizens involved in the show:

Actor Jason Hughes, who has played the programme’s DS Jones, said he had pondered why Midsomer continued to have no ethnic minorities.

“I've wondered that myself and I don’t know,” he said.

“This isn’t an urban drama and it isn’t about multiculturalism. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for multiculturalism in the show. But that’s really not up to me to decide.

“I don’t think that we would all suddenly go, ‘a black gardener in Midsomer? You can't have that’. I think we'd all go, ‘great, fantastic’.”

Now there is someone who gets it (or who at least wants to keep his job). It is about race, not about reality or acting ability. We will no doubt see the problem corrected in the next seasons of the show, and everyone will finally be able to relax and celebrate.