David Olusoga: Lack of diversity in TV ‘weakens us as a profession’

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Historian and broadcaster David Olusoga has said a lack of diversity within the TV industry “weakens us as a profession”.

The 51-year-old, who presents the BBC’s A House Through Time, said he is more interested in telling stories about the lives of ordinary people than the “elite”.

Olusoga was born in Nigeria and had a working class upbringing in Gateshead, Tyne & Wear.

David Olusoga
David Olusoga is a passionate advocate for making the TV industry more diverse (Jack Clark/PA)

He told the Radio Times a lack of diversity within the TV industry has a detrimental effect on output.

Olusoga said: “I’ve met very few people in my 20 years in television who have ever set foot on a council estate like the one I was brought up on, who have any understanding of life on those estates, or of people on zero-hours contracts, or who are struggling, and I think that lack of experience weakens us as a profession in telling the stories of the whole nation – in terms of race, class and other metrics, we have historically failed.”

BBC Two’s hugely popular A House Through Time tells the story of those that have lived at the home from when it was built to the modern day.

It premiered in 2018 with a series based in Liverpool, while the latest will be set at a large, six-bedroomed family home in Leeds.

TV historian Olusoga said: “I’m not interested, and never have been interested, in the stories of the elite.

“We do enough kings and queens and generals and prime ministers.

“It’s not to denigrate that form of history, it’s just that there’s a lot of it being done already and I’m less interested in that than in the lives of ordinary people.”

Read the full interview in Radio Times, out now.

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