Luther’s friend circle “doesn’t feel authentic” according to the BBC

April 19, 2021

A BBC diversity boss has suggested that TV detective character Luther, “doesn’t feel authentic” because he has no black friends and doesn’t eat Caribbean food.

Idris Elba plays lead detective Luther, in the critically-acclaimed BBC drama Luther, which has five series under its belt since first airing in 2010.

Idris was praised by BBC creative diversity chief Miranda Wayland for casting a “really strong, black character lead” during an MIPTV conference.

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She added though that after second series, she questioned the character’s authenticity.

Ms Wayland said TV bosses must ensure that black characters are supported by a culture that is “absolutely reflective” of their background.

She said, “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 Luther. Who didn’t, right?”

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“But after you got into about the second series, you were kind of like ‘okay, actually he doesn’t have any black friends, he doesn’t eat any Caribbean food, this doesn’t feel authentic’.”

“So I think it is great having those big landmark shows with those key characters, but it is about making sure that everything around them – their environment, their culture, the set – is absolutely reflective.”

A BBC spokesperson said, “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.”

An further statement added, “Of course people can have open discussions about our shows but that doesn’t mean it’s a statement of policy.”

Ms Wayland has been the BBC’s head of creative diversity since February 2020, and was appointed as part a commitment by the BBC to deliver more on-air diversity.

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