‘Woke’ is not a dirty word but a moral duty, says a senior BBC editor, defending the corporation’s decision to ‘repurpose’ classic novels by giving them more black, female and Asian characters even when this is historically inaccurate.
The remarks, by the BBC’s head of drama Piers Wenger, will confirm what many viewers have long suspected: that the BBC isn’t interested in making quality programming any more – only in enforcing the politically correct obsessions (equality, diversity, etc) of the narrow, metropolitan liberal elite.
Wenger was speaking at the launch of the BBC’s new drama season, whose highlights include an adaptation of Black and White, a novel for teenagers by Malorie Blackman about a world where the ruling class is black and whites are the victim of racism.
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Among the BBC’s recent woke adaptations have been War of the Worlds where a minor female character replaces a male as the lead; A Christmas Carol, where Bob Cratchit has a mixed race family and Scrooge blackmails Mrs Cratchit for sex; Les Miserables, set in 1830s France, where the French police inspector Javert is black; and various Agatha Christie adaptations again abundant with historically implausible casting and heavy-handed left-wing editorialising.
Wenger insisted that this is a good thing, not a bad thing.
“We’re repurposing them for a contemporary audience and they need to speak to a contemporary audience and represent a contemporary world, as well as being stories set in the past. That’s the point of adaptation.”
According to the Telegraph, he said:
“I really object when I hear the word ‘woke’ used in a pejorative way because what does ‘woke’ really mean? If it means quality being important and fair representation being important then, yes, absolutely that’s important to me.
“Whether that is what ‘woke’ means I don’t really know but I do think equality, representation, portrayal and diversity are things that matter hugely to the BBC and and we would be in dereliction of our duty if we didn’t own those particular initiatives.”
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Quite how ‘woke’ is synonymous with ‘quality’ Wenger could not explain: probably because the two concepts are antithetical.
Either you can choose to make your dramas as historically accurate, realistic, and compelling as possible with the most suitable actors cast to give the best performances possible.
Or you can reimagine the story, reinvent history and parcel out the roles on diversity, gender and equality lines – and hope that your audience are more interested in social justice than they are in quality.
But you can’t do both.
The Doctor Who franchise has tested this notion to destruction – losing audiences hand over fist and squeezing every last bit of life out of its own brand by turning every episode into a politically correct lecture. After too many episodes ramming down their throats that racism is wrong, the British Empire was bad, homosexuality is great, Victorian history looked like one great big United Colours of Benetton advert and that a female Doctor is better than a white male one, the series’s viewers have been abandoning it in their droves.
Wenger himself, of course, cannot see what the problem is:
“I worked on Doctor Who myself and produced it for many years and I can honestly say I don’t think it has been in better health editorially.
“I think it’s fantastic and the production values have never been better. It’s an incredibly important show for young audiences, still watched by families in a world where there are fewer and fewer shows that have the power to do that.
“So it will always be an important show for us and I think we’re a very long way from wanting to rest it.”
If nothing else, you do have to admire the BBC for its unflinching commitment to woke values. Despite losing audiences and being threatened by the government with being denied its state-enforced compulsory income stream – the hated licence fee – the BBC is determined to go down fighting, right to the bitter end, for the left-wing causes it cherishes and which the vast majority of its audience loathes.
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