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How The BBC's Line Of Duty Dealt Diversity And Inclusion With A Low Blow

05/05/2017 12:00 | Updated 08 May 2017

A few days on and I remain conflicted by the brilliantly unpredictable Line of Duty. Stellar television yes, with writer/director Jed Mercurio bringing the art of drama back to British television with poise. Ten out of ten for entertainment, but with DCI Roz Huntley's career path as a 'returner' (the term coined to describe women who leave their career to start a family before returning to the workplace) playing a central theme within the five-part series, not to mention the fact she is a mixed race woman in a position of power, I can't help but ponder how the two buzz words which have come to sum up our Western quest for equality, diversity and inclusion, landed with the mass British public subconscious.

I'm sure every working woman with children, myself included, sat with empathetic gritted teeth, as we heard high flying detective Roz Huntley's boss explain that he stood for her, despite her decision to career break to bring up her children. Wonderful I thought! A very beautifully enacted depiction of the subtle prejudice we often experience as ambitious women who also happen to be mothers. And then in one of many superb plot twists, we see Roz turn the tables, shoving the same prejudicial knife wielded against her, right back at her oppressor.

"I'd urge you to use gender neutral language," says Thandie, before making a move which given that we now know she was indeed the accidental killer of Tim Ifield, can only be called out as playing the diversity and inclusion card. "It's gender bias" said Roz (Thandie) well no actually, you murdered a bloke and they are on to you.

All fantastic television, but I can't help but feel a tad disappointment that on the rare occasion that the BBC spotlights a drama which places gender inequality centre stage, the issue gets bad PR.

Those of us who truly recognise the business case for diversity and inclusion are already up against an army who see D&I as a meaningless CSR initiative. Portraying gender inequality as a sword to be swung by the guilty was not ahem, helpful.

I'm not suggesting for a moment that all entertainment should be subject to political correctness, as art which does not provoke is not art at all, but given the BBC's own diversity challenge, it seems a little ironic.

Perhaps when we reach a time where the scenes, stories and characters on-screen are a realistic depiction of the diversity of UK lives and experience off screen, we can relax about the prospect of reinforcing divisive ideology. Lets get a few more powerful seasons of the Beeb's excellent 'Black and British,' shows like 'Muslims like us' and 'Employable me', under out belt before seven million viewers watch one of our biggest stars (who most crucially is guilty as charged) - play the sexism card at primetime.

As for Thandie, who I admire endlessly for her outspoken rhetoric on the issue of representation on screen - in March during interview she admitted "If you're a woman, you have to be twice as good, and if you're black, you have to be twice as good on top of that," I wonder if at any moment her conscience niggled. Most likely not, such is the calibre of her craft that I imagine she was ensconced completely in the role.

It was just great TV! many of you will attest. But given that our viewpoints and perspectives are all products of the messaging and imagery we consume and the experiences we live, if communications folk like myself don't question the stories being told, or as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie would call it "the danger of a single story" how will we ever penetrate the old, polarising perspectives which continue to hinder our quest for equality?

Jessica Huie MBE is Director of Kaleidoscope www.Kaleidoscope.World

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