Bulletproof and Adulthood writer and actor Noel Clarke has revealed how he made the crew on his latest show more diverse by telling producers: “Just fix it.”
Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival today, Clarke said when he walked on set he realized the crew was not diverse enough. “I’m on a job now which I can’t mention and I came in on day one and I’m the lead actor I was like, ‘The crew’s not diverse enough, fix it, fix it’.
“[They said] ‘Yeah but…’ [I said] ’I don’t want to hear anything else fix it’. I don’t care if there’s trainees because this job’s trainees is the next job’s runner then the next job’s assistant, then they’re a supervisor, then in five year’s time or three year’s time we have more people in the business from different backgrounds; socio-economic, not just about color.”
Although Clarke said he could not name the show, coincidentally his words came on the same morning ITV announced he is the star of its new Tiger Aspect surveillance series Viewpoint — its first drama to restart since lockdown due to the coronavirus. The show just started shooting in Manchester.
Clarke went on to say: “We need to make sure that what’s happening right now [about diversity] it’s not just this quarter’s hashtag and in six months’ time it’s going to be something else. I don’t mind trainees we need to get people in at ground level…change takes time.”
Speaking during a session titled Dramatic Times at the virtual Edinburgh TV Festival, Clarke said that, despite the power he now has, he still fears being crossed off lists for speaking out too much.
On the same panel, Succession writer Lucy Prebble said there’s “space to hire and create” more than one show for different groups of society or subjects. She revealed her upcoming Sky drama I Hate Suzie was initially rejected by other channels.
“I went to a lot of channels with the show I’ve just made, I Hate Suzie, and was told they had their ‘women having a breakdown show’ already. That show ended up getting made…but the equivalent of that happens all of the time. It’s, ‘We have our Asian show, we have our black people from London show.’ That’s the conversation that happens all of the time that no-one really talks about.
Clarke said the arrival of the streamers has helped “shake things up”, which Prebble agreed has helped “writer-creators” who are being snapped up with exclusive deals of the kind BBC and ITV used to do with presenters.
She reckoned that “in five/ten years…you’re going back to two or three very powerful streamers mostly American but not necessarily, a bit like BBC and ITV used to be. In a way that empowers us.”
Russell T Davies said he also welcomed streamers but his one “worry with huge monoliths like that is it’s family orientated.” He said Disney had a teen gay series called Love, Victor, “that was moved on to Hulu…there’s a small sign there of what Disney is out to buy all these companies…then as a gay man I’m sitting there going where’s my content…it’s scary for me.”