'Luther' creator responds to BBC diversity chief claims Idris Elba show 'not Black enough to be real'

Albertina Lloyd
·Entertainment reporter, Yahoo UK
·2-min read
Idris Elba as Luther (Credit: BBC)
Idris Elba as DCI John Luther in the crime drama. (BBC)

Luther's creator has defended the Idris Elba show after the BBC's diversity manager said a lack of Black culture in the character's life meant it doesn't "feel authentic".

Writer Neil Cross said Elba only accepted the role in the crime drama as race was not considered integral to the character.

Miranda Wayland, the BBC's head of creative diversity, told the MIPTV media conference: "When [Luther] first came out everybody loved the fact that Idris Elba was in there – a really strong, Black character lead.

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"We all fell in love with him. Who didn't, right? But after you got into about the second series you got kind of like, okay, he doesn't have any Black friends, he doesn't eat any Caribbean food, this doesn't feel authentic."

Executive Producer Neil Crossis seen at arrivals for the premiere of the Hulu original series HARD SUN at the Regal Union Square Theater in New York, NY, USA on February 28, 2018. (Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Sipa USA)
Writer Neil Cross created the character of DCI John Luther. (PA)

But Cross, who created the detective, said: "I have no knowledge or expertise or right to try to tackle in some way the experience of being a Black man in modern Britain.

'It would have been an act of tremendous arrogance for me to try to write a Black character. We would have ended up with a slightly embarrassed, ignorant, middle-class, White writer's idea of a Black character."

The BBC has said it is "tremendously proud" of Luther.

The corporation has pledged to spend £100m of its content budget on diverse programming over three years, following the Black Lives Matter movement last year.

The BBC is said to have made diversity part of "every conversation" about new shows and that the issue is "non-negotiable".

Idris Elba during a photo call for Luther series 5, at the Courthouse Hotel in Shoreditch, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday December 11th, 2018. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/PA Wire (Photo by Matt Crossick/PA Images via Getty Images)
Idris Elba is hoping to star in a film version of Luther. (Getty Images)

The crime drama starring Elba as DCI John Luther and Ruth Wilson as his adversary Alice Morgan launched in BBC One in 2010 and ran for five series until 2019.

Elba – who is an associate producer on the show – confirmed last year that a film spinoff is still in the works.

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He said: "I’ve maintained I’d like to see it come to a film, and that is where I think we are heading towards – a film. And I’m looking forward to making that happen. It is happening.

“With film, the sky is the limit. You can be a little bit more bold with the storylines. And a little bit more international, and a little more up the scale. But John Luther is always going to be John Luther.”

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