Saturday, 19 November 2011

Them and us

I've just been to BAFTA on Piccadilly to see a reading of the first episode of Carol's new TV drama series. The purpose of the reading was to bring the collective attention of a large number of industry types both to Carol's wonderful writing and the fact that there are way too few British dramas being authored by black writers.

The head of drama commissioning for the BBC was part of the panel and I very much liked him. I thought he coped admirably with the slight "them and us" situation that developed in the room. He gave Carol some very useful constructive criticism, but unfortunately, the first person from the audience to put their hand up, came across as rather aggressively defensive. Worse than that, she gave the impression she was an over-zealous friend of Carol’s, who was talking slightly out of turn. The subtext of what she said seemed to be something along the lines of, "don't you white bullying people criticise my black friend." Perhaps she didn't realise that the entertainment industry thrives on constructive criticism, which is usually considerably harsher than what we'd heard! She didn't exactly win any supporters by admitting she'd been late for the reading and missed the first half of it, particularly as much of the criticism was about the first part of the screenplay. Off the soap box, lady! That's not how to win the war! Sometimes it’s important to acknowledge that everyone’s on the same side and that not all white people are racist.

Slightly uncomfortable moments aside, the intended point of the evening came across loud and clear. We need to invest in television which allows black people to be seen as more than stereotypes, and in order to do this, we need to invest in black writers. I was very proud of Carol. She handled herself brilliantly and her work was terrific.

Over the course of the next month, my diary is going to go bananas and I’ll need to start managing my time with a form of military precision which sort of started today. In amongst sending out music for the concert to all the players, I found the time to start practising my own parts and also to make two lasagnes for Sunday's rehearsal. I kept splitting the roux, however, which I don't understand. I wondered if the flour I used was a bit old. It's rare for me to muck up a white sauce.

When I returned home this evening I found a set of brownies on the kitchen table which Fiona had made and left for me tied up with a little red bow. They were high quality brownies and I ate four. Who cares? I've been running every day this week, I deserve a treat.

And what of Pepys? Well, 350 years ago, he went to St Paul’s to watch the choristers doing their thing. He was sad to see how few people had bothered to turn up to watch them - just a cluster of street boys and vagrants. He then borrowed 100l off a colleague and had dinner with a  young parson who got drunk. Pepys thought the show very unpleasant.

1 comment:

  1. For a while I worked in HR and I was racially discriminated against for being white! Not a pleasant experience but one another colleague had in the same department.