March 20, 2011

General musings for the week 20th March 2011

The story of the week for me was the unwarranted uproar around Midsomer Murders. For those who don't know, Midsomer Murders is a television programme in the style of Inspector Morse and Miss Marple. It follows the efforts of a police detective to solve crime (usually murder) in a sleepy English village. The programme has been running for 14 years and - last week - the co-creator made an off-hand remark along the lines of "We've never had a black actor in Midsomer becasue it wouldn't be right for the show'. This remark has caused an absolute stink in the media resulting in the broadcaster ordering an inquiry and the co-creater being suspended from his own show.

And it's all just political correctness gone mad.

Let me remind you of the facts: This show has been filmed, broadcast, recommisioned and rebroadcast over a period of 14 series. Presumably the big-wigs at the studios and broadcasters were savvy enough to realise that there were no black actors on the show, and yet the fact that one person made an off-hand remark is enough to finally jolt them into action.

It stinks.

But here's what really gets my goat: The co-creator is right: Adding a black person into the show wouldn't be right for it. The show aims at a particular demographic. It's set in a location which is reknowned for the "Englishness' of it all. I live in a place that is very similar to Midsomer. And there are no black people. There are no Chinese people, no Pakistani or Indian people. Hell, I'd be hard pressed to identify anyone who isn't Anglo-Saxon. Whether this is right or wrong is immaterial. It is the demographic of the location. It is the demographic of a lot of similar small villages around England. And it is the demographic of Midsomer. That's why adding something into the mix to appease the PC police is wrong.

But now the media have a hold of this and are blowing it up out of all proportion. This, I would remind you, is the same media who have watched, commented on and reviewed this same show for 14 seasons without noticing, or being concerned about, the fact that it is a white show.

I remember a number of years ago sitting down and watching 'The Cosby Show'. Loved the show (still do), but I don't recall a great number of white actors on there. I also don't recall a great number of complaints about it. I also loved 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' which was a wonderful movie. Not sure I saw too many Anglo-Saxons in there. "But that's a Chinese film, set in China in a feudal era. There were no Anglo-Saxon's in China then" you say. Exactly! You cast your production according to the demographic you need to make it work.

I've just come off filming three months on a big World War One movie. Guess what? Of all the people in the film, I saw English, Scottish, Irish, French, German and Belgians. But I didn't see any people of colour. Why? Because they didn't fight in the trenches in WWI! It's another example where you have to cast according to the required demographic.

But I also worked on 'Spooks' recently. In that particular sequence I was in a minority. I was one of three white people in the shot. Why was that? Because the scene was set in the British Embassy in Cameroon. The ideal demographic for that would be a minority of white surrounded by a majority of black. That's exactly what we had.

I know that people understand this. I know that they are not really concerned when they find out that there are no coloured people in a small English village (In much the same way they wouldn't expect to see any white people in a small village in the Congo). So why is this revalation causing news headlines? It's because the co-creater actually had the guts to say it on the record. Do you think that ITV weren't aware of this? Do you think that the great British viewing public who flock in their millions to watch Midsomer Murders were concerned about the fact that it was a 'white' programme? Of course not! But in this world of political correctness you cannot say that the show is 'white' or that adding any ethnicity to it would be wrong. And that's the mistake the co-creator made. He said what everyone in their hearts knew.

And he's going to pay the price for it.

Video of the week this week is The World's Greatest Extra. This guy would appear - it seems - to be in just about any and every film or TV series made. Check out the video and see how many shows you recognise him in.