The BBC only wants to include working-class people in art if they’re miserable, claims Melvyn Bragg.
Lord Bragg of Wigton, who has presented Radio 4’s In Our Time for 25 years, said people of his background are under-represented in the media.
Referring to his memoirs, Lord Bragg said, “I did a book called Back In The Day, which was about my background – white working class, my generation. I wanted them to be represented.
“They are always underestimated and underrepresented. The BBC is probably to blame for this because they only want working class people if they’re miserable reading books and stuff, but 70 to 80 per cent of the population is from about the same background as me,” the BBC said. presenter, who grew up in a two-up, two-down in Wigton, Cumbria, and was the first in his family to attend university.
“They’re hugely underrepresented, it seems to me, and I want to say, ‘Look, these kinds of people, they worked so hard. And yet they came from the mines. They came from factories. And what did they do? They created a huge culture .’
“That was not recognized at all. These people are (portrayed) as miserable, broke or desperate. It wasn’t like that – and it doesn’t have to be like that,” he told the Radio Times.
Talent is a spark
Lord Bragg, 83, said many of the people profiled on The South Bank Show, which he launched on ITV in 1978 and now on Sky Arts, are from working class backgrounds.
“A lot of popular music, ballet dancers, singers and people in theater have a normal background. Talent is really a spark that some people have, but the main thing is if you can give people opportunities and encouragement, you’re really more than halfway there,” he said.
The BBC was criticized by Ofcom last year for failing to reach and appeal to working-class viewers. The annual report found that people in lower socio-economic groups – who make up almost a quarter of the UK’s population – are the least satisfied with how they are portrayed and portrayed in programmes.
A survey conducted by the regulator found that only 48 per cent of working-class people believed the BBC “showed a good range of programming featuring people like me”. Among those from more affluent backgrounds, it was 60 percent.
The target of BBC staff
The government’s mid-term review of the BBC’s Royal Charter is currently examining the extent to which the company represents a working-class audience.
In its annual plan for 2022, the BBC has set a target for 25 per cent of its staff to come from a lower socio-economic background by 2027.
Lord Bragg will host the South Bank Show Sky Arts Awards on Sunday. The ceremony is “a kind of cup final of the arts,” he said, but cautioned against ignoring popular culture.
When asked if he was annoyed by “trash TV”, he replied: “Be careful what you call ‘trash’. It’s curious how yesterday’s trash is tomorrow’s good stuff. You can’t judge.
“I’m old enough to remember when people used to think pop music was rubbish, but they don’t think so anymore.”