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Open Letter to Ben Stephenson, Outgoing Commissioner of BBC Drama

28/05/2015 17:47 BST | Updated 28/05/2016 10:59 BST

Dear Ben,

I just caught your trailer for BBC Two's new season of drama, and it's SO sexy I almost got a semi. Though, I must say, I think some people might be a little bit cun*ish about it. Don't worry, you're leaving soon, so fuck 'em!

I imagine by now you're sick of all this diversity business. I know am! I hear whispers among some that people think Lenny Henry's made a career move out of it. Just as well really, the Premiere Inn gig could only last for so long! It's like all those gays up on Castro Street who were forever harping on about inequality. I only mention the Harvey Milk brigade because I hear we're sisters, you and I. So, both of us are aware of what it's like to be in the minority, aren't we?

I also hear that while you've been at Auntie doing the drama you've done some wonderful stuff. Wolf Hall, Parade's End, Line of Duty. They say you've reinvigorated the genre. I've not seen Call the Midwife or Sherlock, but my mother loves a bit of Death in Paradise. Anyway, I digress.

Your trailer. I noticed there were no BAMEs or disabled performers about the gaff. I also noticed that while only two women feature, neither of them speak, although one of them does appear to shed a tear. Probably at the prospect of not being allowed to talk!

You said once "I work with writers and I don't believe in quotas and forcing people to write things that don't come from within." So, perhaps that's why your new trailer's so milky white? At a recent Guardian debate on diversity you also expressed that you felt frustrated that the diversity conversation has become about BME (black minority ethnic), when it's actually about the melting pot of Britain. "Too right," I thought in agreement with you when I heard you say that. Then I watched your ad.

An impressive roll call of men from working class backgrounds - Anthony Hopkins, Ben Whishaw, Peter Mullan, David Dawson and Ian McKellan. Some of the best actors our country has to offer. But the problem is, I think, that little black, Asian or East Asian kids won't watch it and see class. They will simply see white. And the girls won't see ANYTHING, apart from the woman with a tear rolling down her face.

If TV is an instrument for social cohesion we must acknowledge that for a lot of kids the telly is the only access to the arts they'll ever know. So, to that end, I cannot overstate the responsibility you had in not fucking up their self worth and dreams of what they might see as attainable future career paths. Perhaps, on this occasion the inclusion of the BAME talent in BBC Two's new season of drama, simply wasn't seen as something worth selling to the global market?

To represent the country we live in. To open up doors and offer an array of opportunities in the types of stories being told. To not be defensive about diversity affecting the quality of work being made. To embrace what is. This has been your duty while on the job.

Your trailer serves as yet another offensive insult from the establishment to all minorities at perhaps the most crucial time there's ever been to finally get this shit right.

You'll no doubt be flying over the pond to your new post away from the BBC by the time this reaches you, but I want you to know the most simple fact in all of the conversations being had about diversity: What we see on our screens and stages we feel we can be! It really is as easy as that.

You have failed many people.

Yours, Throughly Depressed,

Danny Lee Wynter

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