ENTERTAINMENT

'TV Production Should Meet Racial Quotas,'Says Meera Syal At Act For Change Event

01/07/2014 16:33 BST | Updated 01/07/2014 16:59 BST

Meera Syal has become the latest star to add her voice to those wanting more equal representation on our television screens, suggesting it could be time to introduce racial quotas at the production end, so more non-white faces appear.

Speaking at yesterday's Act for Change event, the 'The Kumars' star said that inequal racial representation had been a problem for too long.

meera syal

Meera Syal has spoken out about inequal representation on the box

“For a lot of us this is like Groundhog Day,” she said. “We were having these discussions thirty years ago and I can’t believe we are still having them.

“I’d like to examine the most radical of the suggestions which is the quota system. With all the good will in the world attitudes just are not changing. If things are not changing, you have got to lead people that way. I know people are worried about tokenism but that only happens when there is not a lot of talent out there and there is a massive amount of talent.”

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Meera Syal starred in 'The Kumars' alongside husband Sanjeev Bhaskar

The Act for Change committee has already set out a series of aims including the establishment of an independent body to monitor diversity levels in TV drama in 2015.

In 2016 the body aims to publish its findings and secure a revision of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code “requiring production companies to audition at least one BAME [Black and Minority Ethnic] actor for every leading role unless an occupational requirement applies”.

Act for Change came about after actor Danny Lee-Wynter noticed in ITV's Where Drama Lives trailer last year that that none of the actors were non-white - an exclusion he termed "degrading".

ITV's head of drama Steve November pointed out the trailer included lots of archive shows, and that ITV, Sky and Channel 4 would be announcing a joint initiative soon to address the challenge of increased diversity.

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