UK

Lenny Henry Says The BBC Must Diversify Or Face A Licence Fee Boycott (VIDEO)

19/04/2014 15:10 BST | Updated 19/04/2014 15:59 BST

Lenny Henry has demanded the BBC improve its recruitment of people from culturally diverse background amid wider calls for a general boycott of the BBC licence fee.

The actor also announced his plans to lead the public in a mass protest of Parliament at the lack of diversity in British television.

In an interview with the broadcast industry group The TV Collective, the comedian issued a “call to arms” as he stepped up his long-standing campaign for better representation of black and ethnic minority (BAME) people on TV.

He said: “There will be a call to arms. Nothing happens without conflict and this is our time to stop moaning to ourselves and to take the argument public.”

Henry said he wasn’t advocating non-payment of the licence fee. But he said “it’s a move isn’t it?”

He also revealed he has been having private talks with ministers and senior broadcasting figures, including including Lord Hall, the BBC Director General and Peter Fincham, chief executive of ITV, to address the issue.

But he urged the public to do their part.

“All of those people in the audience who watch those shows and complain that there aren’t enough black and Asian (people), and gay and women and people with disabilities and transgender…they need to start lobbying, to start writing letters, they need to start emailing,” he said.

“At some point soon there’s going to be a campaign and we want everybody to get behind it, write letters to parliament, write letters to government, write letters to your MP and say we think it’s time there was a change.”