Why Fresh Voices UK?
In April 2011 the Creative Diversity Network (CDN) held an event at BAFTA Making a Drama out of Diversity, which posed the question, “Why does the industry frequently struggle to reflect and represent the diversity of the UK in all its glory?”
None of the various groups present in the audience got a satisfying answer from the panel. However, the group of BAME talent in the room were very vocal and felt that while more of us were appearing in front of the camera there was a dearth of BAME writing talent to bring the often quoted request for, ‘fresh, new stories and perspectives often sought by broadcasters and commissioners’.
As the discussion went on members of the BAME contingent expressed their frustration that not only did our scripts not make it in front of commissioners, but there was also a perception that our stories could only be issue led, or ‘gritty’, ‘urban’ tales of guns and drugs.
I could see my own experience in the stories I was hearing and wanted to understand what was behind our joint frustration. After much research I was stunned to find that the last original, BAME-authored, prime-time drama series, or serial was Black Silk, BBC, 1987!*
Never one to rage at the world, or just sit on my hands moaning gently about my lot, I decided to put together a series of staged readings of scripts from experienced BAME writing talent for an invited industry audience to give them an opportunity to see what we think is missing from our screens.
The first Fresh Voices UK event was held at BAFTA on Friday 18th November 2011.
*Run Channel 4, has since hit our screens this year, 2013