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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Row over black TV stars
Ludovic Kennedy
Kennedy said he was "all in favour of black advancement"
A respected author and broadcaster has said British TV has "more than its fair share" of black people on screen.

Former BBC host Sir Ludovic Kennedy said political correctness was "completely out of hand" and minorities were actually over-represented on TV.

But his comments attracted criticism from ethnic organisations, who said Sir Ludovic "failed to grasp the realities of modern multiracial Britain".

Sir Ludovic, 83, stressed that he was "all in favour of black advancement".

"But there's now hardly a TV pub, police station, soap, vox pop or ad without rather more than its fair share of black participation," he wrote in The Oldie magazine.

"The Statistical Office tells me that the proportion of all ethnic groups (blacks, Indians, Pakistanis, Asians) to whites in this country is no more than 7.5%.

Ferreira family
EastEnders recently added an Asian family to its cast
"Political correctness has got completely out of hand and now requires that the imbalance be readjusted," he wrote.

A spokesperson for the Commission for Racial Equality said it was "sad" to see such a well-known author and commentator making such comments.

"Yes, there are some areas where black and Asian people are beginning to secure an equal place in the sun," they said.

"But there are still many more where they are distinctly, visibly and obviously disadvantaged."

A BBC spokeswoman said there were no targets or statistics for the share of actors from ethnic backgrounds.

'Developing talent'

But she said: "It's not about targets, it's about reflecting real life."

Some programmes, like EastEnders and Holby City, have more ethnic characters because they are set in areas where minorities account for up to 30% of the population, she said.

"It would seem unrealistic to the various audiences watching these dramas without this variety of characters," a statement said.

"We are proud that there is a fair representation of modern society across the BBC," it said.

"But whilst we are very committed to diversity and fairness, we are primarily in the business of making the most of and developing acting, presenting and journalistic talent, not playing a politically correct numbers game."

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