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Is there institutional racism in the broadcasting industry?
83
It took me about four or five attempts over a year and a half with
different boards. A number of times I came close, I was called “also
suitable”, you know, old formal boards and a degree world but not
quite me, and I went through a very extensive period of self
analysis, I changed my glasses,  the clothes, I read all the books
about psychology of attending interviews and how one comes across
and I kind of tried to understand the psyche of it. I was determined
to crack it and it worked, I guess. - Producer
My accent belies my background basically, something I have had to
pick up in order, I felt, to get on really and I am part of a generation
that didn’t think regional accents were cool so I changed mine. I did
a Joan Bakewell, went into the loo and completely changed my
accent to make it more London. - Former BBC Producer
Others described feeling tolerated as long as they were seen to be the same.
There’s this lovely colour blind thing which comes in Oh you’re just
one of us. - Editor
You’re just like us. It’s a double-edged sword: it places the onus on
you to challenge them with your difference. That’s why people say
they leave their ethnicity on the threshold when they come to work:
you’re not really permitted to be fully yourself. - TV producer
I know that basically the way to get on is to fit in, don’t rock the
boat, fit in. – Radio producer
The BBC was seen to be particularly limited in its acceptance of people who didn’t
conform, both on air and in the workplace.
You will be allowed onto the airwaves if you are behaving as a White
person, if you are speaking in RP (Received Pronunciation) and if you
are behaving in the way that Angela Rippon would behave, then you
have a chance to get on the airwaves. When do we ever hear some
of the thousands of intelligent, capable Asian women who don’t
speak with RP, when do we hear them on our airwaves, radio or TV?
-
Producer
I was very good at the duality, I come here as a professional, I am
interested in that, I am part of the chattering classes, I read the
right novels, I go home, switch into Pakistani mode and I can do my
bit there, I am very good at that. I have always done that but when
I went through a crisis, I realised the lack of integrity, it began to sit
quite uncomfortably with me. Perhaps then I wanted to be totally
authentic and say to them If you are going to accept me then you
need to understand that I am part of this. I revealed myself in a way
that made people feel uncomfortable and all of a sudden they were
like, My god, this guy has gone fundo, he is turning a bit Muslim,
what is all this about and why should we care anyway? - Producer
I think that the biggest problem is cloning people in their own
image. That is not necessarily just a colour thing because they just
want the right cultural references. There was a BBC reporter, an
Indian woman, who said that once she wanted to do a report
wearing a hijab and she was told by her news people that she
couldn’t do that, because it would be too disturbing or distracting -
quite interesting remark to make. As long as you wear western outfit
it is okay. Wind the clock back ten years and they would say that
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