Ethnic minorities and gay people are significantly over-represented on British television, according to a study.
Black and ethnic minority (BAME) people account for about 13 per cent of the national workforce but secure 23 per cent of on-screen roles, the statistics show.
Over-representation is particularly stark on drama programmes, where ethnic minority actors win more than a quarter (26.4 per cent) of parts, as well as children’s TV (30.3 per cent) and comedies (24.9 per cent).
Lesbian, gay and bisexual people are nearly twice as likely to appear on television — where they take 11.9 per cent of roles — than would be expected by their estimated 6.4 per cent share of the national population.
The figures come after the head of BBC drama defended its practice of crowbarring diverse characters and plotlines into adaptations of classic novels, in an attempt to reflect the demographics of modern Britain. Critics have accused the corporation of pushing “woke propaganda”.
The latest study indicates that broadcasters and producers are promoting actors and presenters of diverse backgrounds to on-screen roles while failing to fully address off-screen diversity problems, especially at senior levels.
Ethnic minorities are still significantly underrepresented as directors, screenwriters and series producers, the research shows.
The latest annual Diamond Survey by the Creative Diversity Network is based on data supplied by 30,000 TV productions made for the five major UK broadcasters: the BBC, ITV, C4, C5 and Sky.
Submissions are voluntary but the organisers believe that the survey offers an accurate picture of the industry’s diversity.
Older people and the disabled are the most underrepresented minority groups. Over-50s account for 20.6 per cent of on-screen contributions but make up 31 per cent of the workforce, while disabled people get 7.8 per cent of on-screen jobs and 5.2 per cent of off-screen, despite being 17 per cent of the population.
Deborah Williams, executive director of the Creative Diversity Network, said that it was disappointing that disability representation had “flatlined” in recent years.
She suggested that BAME presenters and actors were so over-represented because improving on-screen diversity had traditionally been seen as a “quick win”.
“So much time is spent on quick wins, that digging deeper hasn’t necessarily been a priority,” she said. “The easiest thing to do, and everyone is guilty of this whether in television or other industries, is to find a black person and put them on.”
Women are slightly over-represented in both on-screen (52.4 per cent) and off-screen (53.7 per cent) roles. The data covers programmes broadcast from August 2018 to July 2019.