Laurence Fox addresses criticism after saying Sikh soldier in 1917 ‘forced diversity’ on viewers

Jacob Stolworthy

Laurence Fox has responded to criticism after saying that the inclusion of one Sikh soldier in Sam Mendes’ drama 1917 “forced diversity” on viewers.

The actor, who is also facing backlash for dismissing the suggestion that Meghan Markle has faced racial discrimination, said the casting was “odd” despite the fact that many Sikhs served with British forces during the war.

He told James Delingpole on his podcast The Delingpod: “It is kind of racist. If you talk about institutional racism, which is what everyone loves to go on about – which I’m not a believer in – there is something institutionally racist about forcing diversity on people in that way.”

Now, appearing on Good Morning Britain, the actor told hosts Susanna Reid and Piers Morgan: “I suppose it would have been less incongruous to me if he’d got on the truck to a whole regiment of Sikh soldiers.”

When asked if he regrets making the comment, he said: “I mean, as you’ve noticed, I say quite a lot of unfortunate things, but I think it’s really important that one is able to express one’s opinion.

“But I also think people shouldn’t be terrified to say what they feel,” he continued.

Fox’s comments come after an appearance on Question Time in which he told academic Rachel Boyle: “It’s so easy to just throw your charge of racism at everybody and it’s starting to get boring now.”

When Boyle told him he is a “white privileged male”, Fox replied: “I can’t help what I am. I was born like this – it’s an immutable characteristic, so to call me a white privileged male is to be racist – you’re being racist.”

Piers Morgan told Fox he had been championing his controversial remarks right up until he expressed his views on the Sikh soldier, played by Nabhaan Rizwa, in 1917.

One person to criticise the outspoken actor following his recent remarks is Maxine Peake, who wrote on Twitter: “Posh actors only complain when they want attention.”

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