Idris Elba is perhaps well known for his portrayal of DCI John Luther on BBC's acclaimed psychological crime drama, Luther. However, the character was the subject of criticism by BBC's diversity chief.
Recently, BBC diversity chief Miranda Wayland made waves for commenting about the fictional detective's authenticity — or lack thereof — at the MIPTV Conference this week.
“When it first came out everybody loved the fact that Idris Elba was in there — a really strong, Black character lead,” Wayland said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “We all fell in love with him. Who didn’t, right? But after you got into, about, the second series you got kind of like, OK, he doesn’t have any Black friends, he doesn’t eat any Caribbean food, this doesn’t feel authentic.”
Wayland went on to state the importance of cultural signifiers and specificity, noting it is imperative that television bosses ensure Black characters' who have an environment and culture that is "reflective" of their background.
“It’s great having those big landmark shows with those key characters, but it’s about making sure everything around them, their environment, their culture, the set is absolutely reflective,” Wayland continued. “It will be very much about how can we make sure that this program is authentic in terms of the storytelling.”
It should be noted that Luther was written and created by Neil Cross, a white man. Wayland's moments drew discussion and criticism on racial stereotypes on social media.
This is a fair criticism for many supposedly "diverse" shows. Disconnected black characters; black men w/ no black friends, black women with ONLY white female friends & partners. But that critique doesn't apply here because #Luther is a misanthrope w/ no friends of ANY kind https://t.co/qNSRzfiWX8
— Dr. Jason Johnson (@DrJasonJohnson) April 15, 2021
GTFOH. Stringer Bell sips tea. Franklin Saint reads more than Luke Cage. Are they not authentic? Sometimes, Blackness is as much about execution as it is flavor, and Idris' exuberant confidence, the walk and the lurch that's "Shaft" meets "Columbo" exudes Blackness. https://t.co/LJUigaMDea
— Cheo Hodari Coker (@cheo_coker) April 15, 2021
Does BBC’s diversity chief have a Twitter? I’d like to ask them some questions. Like what is their definition of “Black?” For starters... https://t.co/L8szyRRoMF
— Barrington Martin II (@_BarringtonII) April 14, 2021