Armando Iannucci Praises ‘Liberating’ Colorblind Casting, Slams Debates About ‘Doctor Who’ Being ‘Woke’

The "Veep" creator thinks it's ridiculous how much energy is being devoted to debates over "Doctor Who" casting.
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 15: Armando Iannucci of 'Avenue 5' poses in the green room during the 2020 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 15, 2020 in Pasadena, California. 697450 (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for WarnerMedia)
Armando Iannucci
Getty Images for WarnerMedia

Ncuti Gatwa is set to make British television history next year when he becomes the fourteenth actor to play the Doctor on the beloved BBC series “Doctor Who.” Gatwa will be the first Black actor to play the Time Lord, a casting that has many people (including Ryan Gosling) excited, but inevitably led to some grievances from Internet trolls who see diverse casting as an example of dangerous “wokeness.” But one person who has little patience for that side of the debate is “Veep” creator and “The Death of Stalin” director Armando Iannucci.

Appearing on the MacTaggart Legacy panel at the Edinburgh International TV Festival (via The Independent), Iannucci explained why he thinks the debate around “wokeness” is ridiculous. He believes that the word “woke” has lost all meaning and is being gratuitously used by politicians to describe minor pop culture changes that they don’t like.

“My worry is that there is now this word, ‘woke’, that the government has weaponized to try and stop all that,” Iannucci said. “I want someone to ask [Prime Ministerial candidate] Liz Truss, ‘Do you want Doctor Who just to be a white man?’ I’ve got to see what her response is, because that’s the thing that’s referred to as ‘woke’, the ‘Doctor Who’ debate.”

For his part, Iannucci sees absolutely zero problems with casting more diverse actors in British films and television shows.

“British television is great, we want it to be even better,” Iannucci said. “And it can only be better if it’s much more reflective of who we are, as a country and as an audience.”

In addition to making film and television more representative, Iannucci also believes that employing colorblind casting makes art better. The filmmaker is thrilled that the entertainment industry had progressed to the point where he could cast Dev Patel as an iconic Charles Dickens protagonist in “The Personal History of David Copperfield.”

“It was an enormous relief,” he said. “I felt liberated, I didn’t feel I was ticking boxes. I just felt, ‘my God, why have I not had access to 100 percent of the acting community [previously]?’

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