Media in the Press 15.3.11

Post graduate journalism student, Claudie Qumsieh, casts her eyes over today’s papers for media tales…

The producer of countryside whodunnit Midsomer Murders is reported to have been suspended for saying he keeps black and Asian people out of storylines because “it wouldn’t be an English village with them”.

Says the Scottish Daily Mail (page 13), Brian True-May is quoted in the Radio Times saying: “We just don’t have ethnic minorities involved. Because it wouldn’t be an English village with them. It just wouldn’t work. Suddenly we might be in Slough. If you went to Slough you wouldn’t see a white face there. We’re the last bastion of Englishness and I want to keep it that way.”

All3Media, the show’s production company, is believed to have suspended the co-creator last night and ITV is quoted saying it was “shocked and appalled” at the comments.

Mohammed Shafiq, of the Ramadhan Foundation, which aims to create better understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims, is quoted, saying: “To try to wipe us or our presence off television screens is wrong and factually incorrect.” Rob Berkeley from a race equality think tank, the Runnymede Trust, is also quoted, saying: “Clearly, as a fictional work, the producers of Midsomer Murders are entitled  to their flights of fancy, but to claim the English village is purely white is no longer true and not a fair reflection of our society.”

The Mail’s Paul Revoir describes villagers leaping to the defence of True-May. A Roy Stock, 63, is reported saying: “The whole reason of the show is to depict the tiny little villages of England. There just aren’t any ethnic people around here. In everyday life in Great Missenden, you wouldn’t see any at all.”

Mr True-May said he had been told by lawyers not to comment but his wife, Maureen, is quoted, describing the suspension as “ridiculous”.

The Scottish Sun (page 10) also runs the story, saying that True-May, who has been in charge of the drama since 1997, has been suspended for “banning non-white actors from the show”.

Remaining in Midsomer, the Scottish Daily Express (page 3) reports that STV has dropped two, new feature-length episodes of the drama, but for financial reasons rather than a protest at True-May's alleged quotes. A similar scheduling decision resulted in STV viewers last year being unable to watch the hit drama, Downton Abbey. A STV spokeswoman is quoted, saying: “Our programme strategy has proven to be a success with viewers in Scotland and our audience share regularly exceeding the network.”

Also in the news, Fifth Gear presenter, Quentin Wilson, has joined a fuel tax protest by making a giant, fake £26.2 billion cheque for Chancellor, George Osborne. The sum, as reported in the Scottish Daily Express (page 2), is the amount British drivers are believed to be paying in fuel duty each year. Wilson is quoted saying: “This cheque does not include additional VAT or other road taxes. Businesses and motorists cannot pay more.” Peter Carroll, founder of FairFuelUK, is also quoted saying: “If the duty increase comes in, it will bring the whole economy grinding to a halt.”

And finally, Ant and Dec are reported to have spent yesterday gate-crashing various TV programmes, to pinch pants, shoes and sofas. Says the Daily Record (page 3), the pilfering was part of a fundraising event for Red Nose Day which will see the stolen items auctioned for Comic Relief on Friday. Programmes ransacked included BBC Breakfast, Daybreak, This Morning and Loose Women. The Geordie duo are also reported to have phoned Clyde 1 and Forth One, on the scrounge.

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