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Michele Buck, the CEO of Company Pictures, who produce the popular detective drama, said big changes had been made in front and behind the camera. She told Express.co.uk that nearly 37 percent of guest roles in the last three seasons were played by actors of colour. This translates to 94 out of 258 characters who briefly appeared in the rural, middle-England crime flick.
Midsomer Murders has been hugely successful since it first launched in 1997 and its peak reached a staggering 13.5 million viewers.
Show lead DCI Tom Barnaby was played by John Nettles for 14 years before he handed over the reins to Neil Dudgeon, who now stars alongside Nick Hendrix.
In the wake of claims that BBC’s hit crime drama Luther was not “authentic”, Express.co.uk asked the ITV hit’s production company about diversity on the show.
It followed controversial comments one decade ago from former producer Brian True-May, who defended the show’s “all-white” cast.
ITV Midsomer Murders defended the diversity of their cast after BBC’s Luther furore
John Nettles starred in Midsomer Murders from 1997 until 2011 as DCI Tom Barnaby
He later apologised for his remarks but at the time claimed Midsomer Murders was the “last bastion of Englishness”.
Mr True-May, who left in 2016, defended the show’s “all-white” cast in a 2011 Radio Times interview.
He argued: “We just don’t have ethnic minorities involved because it wouldn’t be an English village with them.”
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Mr True-May claimed it would be “fairly ridiculous” to “pack” an English village “with black and Asian faces” because it “wouldn’t accurately reflect the area they’re trying to portray”.
However, now Midsomer Murders appears to have turned a corner.
Ms Buck, who is also an executive producer on Midsomer Murders, told Express.co.uk more.
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She said: “In our casting, we want to represent the rich diversity of modern Britain.
“However at Midsomer Murders, it is also important to us that we have a diverse team working behind the camera too.
“We had directors from a range of backgrounds working on the series this year.”
Ms Buck also claimed Company Pictures was “among the very first production companies” to offer a mentorship scheme “specifically for young, black female directors”.
ITV’s Midsomer Murders currently stars Neil Dudgeon & Nick Hendrix as John Barnaby and Jamie Winter
Anthony Horowitz adapted the novels for the TV show Midsomer Murders
She explained that the group is “underrepresented” in the industry.
Ms Buck added: “We believe that future change must come from within the industry and are committed to playing our part.”
Mr True-May’s remark resurfaced after Miranda Wayland, the BBC’s Diversity Chief, claimed Luther “didn’t feel authentic”.
Earlier this week, she told the MIPTV conference that Idris Elba’s character DCI John Luther didn’t seem real.
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Among the reasons she listed for believing this was that he did not “have any black friends” and did not “eat any Caribbean food”.
The remark surprised many, including Luther’s creator Neil Cross, who argued he could have never portrayed “the experience of being a black man in modern Britain”.
Mr Cross argued that if he had tried it would have made a “slightly embarrassed, ignorant, middle-class, white writer’s idea of a black character”.
He also claimed Idris only agreed to take the part if race was not important to the character.
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BBC’s Luther, which stars Idris Elba, was alleged to have not been representative of black people
In response to the claims about Luther, the BBC defended their “multi-award winning” series and said they were “tremendously proud” of it.
They noted the corporation has “continued investment in diversity” and felt the shows I May Destroy You and Small Axe were “testament to that”.
The spokesperson stated that Ms Wayland’s views shouldn’t be construed as “a statement of policy”.
The BBC is set to spend £100million on diverse programming in the coming three years.
Midsomer Murders is available to stream on ITV Hub.