Desmond’s creator Trix Worrell has criticised the TV industry for its ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The writer praised Oscar-nominated director Steve McQueen and award-winning actress and writer Michaela Coel for their work, but he feels it isn’t enough to champion just two Black people as there is so much aspiring talent out there.
He also called out broadcasters for ‘gatekeeping’ and not allowing Black people to ‘fail in the same way’ – something he’s trying to rectify with his production company Distant Voices.
He told Metro.co.uk: ‘Broadcasters are knee-jerking and guilt tripping at the moment with Black Lives Matter. The fact is they don’t give us an opportunity to be shown because they don’t pick up our shows. Behind the camera there’s a dearth of us there.
‘You give us the opportunity, we prove to you that we can do this. We don’t get the opportunity, we could never prove anything. Production companies or TV companies or executives are the gatekeepers of our culture, and they tend to choose people that look like them. We are certainly not on their radar, and when one breaks through, my god, they celebrate them and pat themselves on the back about how they gave that opportunity to Michaela Coel and Steve McQueen.’
Trix went on: ‘Now you got the BBC already lording it up about Steve McQueen. The guy won Oscars, so that’s not difficult, and they’re both brilliant.
‘Steve has said an awful lot about the paucity of people of colour behind the cameras, so enough respect for him. Equally the BBC is making a lot of noise about Michaela, rightly so. [I May Destroy You] is a fantastic show.
‘But it just feels that that doesn’t make up for the shortcomings. We’re talking about Desmond’s 30 years on, but has there been something like it since then? No.’
His classic comedy Desmond’s, set in a barber shop in Peckham, has landed on Netflix for Black History Month so a whole new generation of fans can enjoy it.
When asked why he thinks people are still talking about Desmond’s, which first aired on Channel 4 in 1989, Trix believes it’s because the show is still ‘relevant’.
‘The experiences of the black community or those people from a migrant community in England is still the same,’ he said.
‘But what is great about Desmond’s in many respects, is it’s a celebration of family life and values and community.
‘I did deal with things like the Windrush generation, and there’s an episode where Desmond says to [his wife] Shirley, “Just in case in Margaret Thatcher kicks us out, what are we doing?”. There is a two-part episode where I deal with guns and gangs called A Day In The Life where the gunmen hold up the shop.
‘The issues are there but I make people laugh with them and think at the same time. I wish I wasn’t saying that these issues were there and that it was much more celebratory. But it is and I hope that all sorts of people come to it, and they can debate it thereafter and laugh.’
Desmond’s is available to stream on Netflix now
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