How can we make it better?
Britain. I got my first opportunity to series produce at the BBC. Kurt
Barlin was a TV producer who we made into a reporter, and he also
works for BBC London. Henry Bonser was a radio researcher who we
gave some reporting opportunities to - he went on to be a radio
Fatima Salaria, an Asian woman on our team, she got her first
opportunity to produce items and is now a producer at BBC Current
Affairs. Joanna Burgh was an assistant producer who we gave the
opportunity to produce and she is now a freelance producer, Sam
Anstice was another AP we gave another opportunity to produce and
she is now series producer for BBC Current Affairs (Sam was White).
So that entire team made a massive difference to Ill argue a central
part of the BBC in terms of London and Current Affairs.
? Radio 5 Drama
Turan Ali (now an independent producer), Pam Fraser-Solomon and Anne
Edyvean (BBC Radio and TV drama producers) were part of the mix of talent that
launched Radio 5 drama.
I was one of the three people from the outside world who was
brought straight into the BBC as a producer, and it was particularly
for the multicultural drama that I might be able to bring because in
1990 when I joined the Beeb, radio drama was wall-to-wall White
Home Counties really. The other producers who were brought in also
had experience of working with diverse communities as well.
The commitment to encouraging diverse voices came from the top, according to
producer Anne Edyvean:
At that stage I saw very much ethnicity as being a key feature. I
saw women as being a key feature, we were making for a youth
audience and I thought there were issues around teenage-hood,
teenage girls, that I found interesting.
Q. Did you find that the commissioners were responsive to that?
Absolutely. Those of us who worked in Radio 5 will all agree. I went
to my first commissioning meeting, I had six projects, I thought I
would die for these two and argue these two and give these two up.
And I went through all six of them and they went All right then. I
went What all of them?! And she said Yes they sound good to me. I
think we were very lucky to come in at that stage, at that time.
The opportunity to develop their skills while doing the sort of work that was
valued for its diversity was a good investment. All these producers have all taken
those skills forward in their subsequent careers. None of these cultural crucibles
exist today and I wasnt able to find anything that resembles them. They clearly
served a very useful purpose: perhaps it is time to look at where some new ones
could be created?
Who is going to ensure it gets better?
The ideal situation would be for improvement to happen organically without any
formal regulation or monitoring, arising simply from creative leadership and
culturally intelligent behaviour on the part of broadcasting managers and