Edward Holcroft, pictured at last year's British Independent Film Awards
Edward Holcroft, pictured at last year's British Independent Film Awards

White actor to play black character, race row erupts

THE BBC is under attack for casting a white actor in a role originally written for a black one in a new thriller.

Danny Lee Wynter, who set up diversity campaign Act for Change, said black actors were "confused and understandably angry" when Edward Holcroft was chosen for London Spy after many of them had auditioned.

He said the part was originally advertised for "an immensely talented non-Caucasian actor" and auditions had taken place for what was described as "a pivotal role in this brilliant original drama series".

He claims some black actors had been "in serious talks".

Mr Wynter, 32, said: "To change the race of a character seems a cavalier decision to make, especially so very late in the casting process.

"It may seem like one small thing... but once again this highlights the subtle, repeated erosion of opportunities available for black British artists."

Writer Tom Rob Smith responded:

"The character originated without any specific race but as I continued writing a particular story took hold which required a black character.

"However, during the rewriting of the final episodes the plot changed and he became a white character."

A BBC spokesman said: "The BBC supports the creative freedom of its writers.

"The BBC is committed to diversity and has set targets to increase BAME portrayal on screen from 10.4 per cent to 15 per cent in the next three years that we believe will make a tangible difference."