Wednesday, 22 January 2014

London blinkers

Media City, Salford -
where Londoners can't be bothered to come
When I lived in Manchester, the general feeling was that the local news spent far too much time on those scouser scallywags in Liverpool. However, something I think both Manchester and Liverpool could then and can now come together in agreement on is that institutions in general in the UK are far too London-centric.

I hear it time and again - the London-based chattering classes use London as a picture of what the UK is like - and yet, inevitably, the English capital is entirely different from the vast majority of the country. They assume we all have an excellent public transport system and a chi-chi smoothie shop on every corner. They assume what they experience is Britain. But it's not.

Even when an organisation tries to do something about it, there are difficulties in making it work. When I went to Media City in Salford to record University Challenge I thought it was wonderful - and yet I hear that there are difficulties getting people to go there to be interviewed, so it wouldn't be surprising if at least part of the BBC section moves back down to London when the lease is up for renewal.

The thing that set me off on this minor rant was some self-opinionated person on the Today programme this morning. He was talking about how disappointing the lack of black and Asian people in film and broadcasting is. And he was right - his message was spot on. And then he spoiled the whole thing for everyone outside London by comparing the ethnic makeup of people working in the offices in the BBC with the ethnic makeup of London. Assuming, as his type always does, that London is the UK. I'm sorry, it's not the London Broadcasting Corporation. That first word is British, and any comparison should be against British statistics not London ones.

So, please, broadcasters at least, make an effort. When you want to do a vox pop or visit a school, go somewhere other than a London suburb. When you think of what the country is like, don't just think of London. Don't get me wrong - I love London. But it's hard to imagine anywhere less typical of the UK.

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