BBC: working class people are 'subject to ridicule' on TV

BBC - Anthony Devlin
BBC - Anthony Devlin

Working class people are often the object of ridicule on television, a BBC report has said.

In a report on diversity, the corporation said broadcasters must avoid falling into clichés and stereotypes and present “more nuanced on-screen portrayal”.

It cited positive examples of “authentic and multi-dimensional characters” as Connell Waldron (Paul Mescal) in the drama Normal People, a character from a poor background and raised by a single mother but who is also “shy, thoughtful, a hard workers and lover of literature”.

Another example given in a list of “archetypes” was Kayleigh Kitson (Sian Gibson) in the comedy Car Share, who works in supermarket promotions. She has “high standards” and “loves beauty, music and seeing her friends”.

The BBC said its observation on working class stereotypes was about television in general, not just the corporation’s output.

More than a quarter (27 per cent) of people surveyed for the Creative Diversity Report said there was too little coverage of diverse socio-economic backgrounds on screen.

In an effort to counter that perception, the BBC said it will meet audiences regularly for “intimate, in-depth sessions, to help build empathy” and inform programme-making decisions.

The BBC has committed £100 million of its commissioning budget to making diverse programmes from April next year.

BBC director-general Tim Davie said: "Across the BBC, our focus has been on making sure that everyone - across the UK, from all backgrounds and communities - can feel that the BBC is for them.

"It's about being relevant to every part of society, and delivering value to every household. We have a responsibility to reflect and serve all audiences."

Director of creative diversity June Sarpong said: "How we respond to the challenge of creating a more inclusive organisation will determine whether the BBC can deliver value for all audiences into our future.

"This feels particularly pertinent as we approach the BBC's centenary in 2022."

The report said that "failure to seize this moment risks us losing the loyalty of future generations".