Nick Ahad: Without diversity what will the BAFTAS look like in ten years’ time?

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I see the Olivia Colman award nominations have been announced. Sorry, I mean the Olivia Colman BAFTA awards. As they really ought to be known. Colman, obviously, is up for an award, although there appears to have been an administrative error – she’s only up for Female Performance in Comedy this year. Heads will roll.

This week I – finally – managed to watch the first series of Broadchurch (it is ridiculous, given that I’ve worked in the industry, how little time I get to watch TV series. I am constantly behind the curve). I can now add my voice to the cacophony of approval for Colman’s searing performance in that spectacularly taut series. I also managed to finally catch up with the far less mono-cultural-than-Broadchurch Channel 4 series Utopia.

Broadchurch was spectacular, but crikey could you notice the lack of diversity in that cast

Written by Dennis Kelly, this mind-blowing show has also won a nomination in the actor category. Adeel Akhtar (prepare for the ‘clang’ of a name drop) who I worked with a few years back on a theatre piece, is up for best supporting actor. If there’s any justice in this world he will walk away with it for his portrayal of the complex Wilson Wilson.

What both these nominations – and those in other categories for Happy Valley, Marvellous, Sherlock and The Honourable Woman – demonstrate, is the exceptional quality we are all enjoying in British television at the moment. In case you haven’t sensed it yet, there is a ‘but’ coming. The day before the BAFTA nominations were revealed this week I was at an arts conference in Leeds. What Next? was held at the Howard Assembly Rooms and was an opportunity for those interested in and working in the arts, to gather and talk about what is next for the cultural industry in terms of diversity. The lack of diversity, I’m sorry to say it again, but it’s true, is still an issue.

James Brining, the man in charge of the West Yorkshire Playhouse was there to speak about how he wants to tackle this issue. That Brining was there on the first day of the rehearsals for The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, which he is directing, spoke volumes. No, he agreed, we are simply not there yet. In fact, he admitted, we’re a long way away from ‘there’, if we all agree that ‘there’ is a place where we all – class, race, gender divisions aside – are allowed an equal share of our culture.

What’s this got to do with the Olivia Colman awards? Broadchurch was spectacular, but crikey could you notice the lack of diversity in that cast. In fact, if you look at all the shows nominated, I’m afraid it’s going to be another case of spot the brown face. Just as it was at the BAFTA film awards a couple of months ago. Brining wants diversity because he wants the quality we have now to continue. That’s only going to happen if we widen, not narrow, the field of talent creating the work on our stages and screens. Another ten years without that diversity and the BAFTAs won’t look half as good.