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Idris Elba’s Luther Isn’t ‘Authentic’ Because ‘He Doesn’t Have Black Friends,’ Says BBC Exec

BBC diversity chief Miranda Wayland has ignited backlash over her comments about Elba's fan favorite detective.

Idris Elba in "Luther"

Idris Elba in “Luther”

Des Willie / ©BBC-America / Courtesy: Everett Collection

BBC diversity chief Miranda Wayland has stirred up controversy on social media due to a discussion at the digital MIPTV conference (via Entertainment Tonight) in which she said Idris Elba’s popular crime series “Luther” is not “authentic” when it comes to Black storytelling.

As Wayland explained, “When [‘Luther’] first came out everybody loved the fact that Idris Elba was in there — a really strong, Black character lead. 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, ‘OK, he doesn’t have any Black friends, he doesn’t eat any Caribbean food, this doesn’t feel authentic.”

Wayland continued, “It’s great having those big landmark shows with those key characters, but it’s about making sure everything around them, their environment, their culture, the set is absolutely reflective. It will be very much about how can we make sure that this program is authentic in terms of the storytelling.”

Many “Luther” fans reacted critically on social media to Wayland’s comments. The Telegraph and Daily Mail UK commentator Calvin Robinson wrote on Twitter, “Yesterday, it was implied I’m not black enough because I didn’t have any black friends in my photo. Today, BBC’s diversity chief says Luther ‘isn’t black enough’ because ‘he doesn’t have any black friends.’ These lazy stereotypes are racist!”

Robinson continued, “Great thing about Luther is that his skin color isn’t the core of his identity. He’s fighting many battles. An example that we’re all human, we all struggle, but our ethnicity doesn’t always play a part in that. That’s diversity, Miranda Wayland. Equality!”

Femi Oluwole, a writer for The Independent and London Economic, reacted to Wayland’s comments by writing, “The police turn on Luther every chance they get. How is that NOT an authentic black character?”

“Luther” has aired 20 episodes across five series on BBC. Elba and the creative have plans to reunite for a movie version of “Luther.”

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