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Ethnic workers ‘fear noose’ to speak out, says Sir Lenny Henry

Straight talking: Sir Lenny Henry in the House of Lords PICTURE: PA

SIR LENNY HENRY has claimed people from ethnic backgrounds working in TV are left ‘fearing the noose’ due to a lack of safe spaces to speak out.

The comedian, giving evidence to parliament, also called for a change in the law as he accused bosses of failing to help people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) backgrounds.

He said just 2.2 per cent of UK TV is directed by Bame people, adding that many were afraid to express themselves due to a lack of support.

Sir Lenny highlighted a conversation he had with a black BBC staff member, telling the House Of Lords communications committee: ‘The feeling was that there was not a safe space to say stuff that we were unhappy with, without getting oppressed or fired.

‘There needs to be safe spaces for people to vent their feelings without fearing the noose.’

Sir Lenny said increasing the number of minorities on screen was ‘like putting lipstick on a pig’, unless there was also changes in representation behind the scenes. He added: ‘This is an infrastructural change that is needed. Until they are actually brave enough to make a law and mandate something, nothing is going to change.’

The star said more funding and tax breaks for ‘diverse productions’ could also help.