Idris Elba may never get to play James Bond, but he did spend five seasons as the lead on Luther, the BBC’s beloved detective series, which maybe, one of these days, could get a movie. But there’s one critic of the show: BBC diversity chief Miranda Wayland. At the digital MIPTV conference on Monday, she told the crowd about her main issue with the show, which was that it wasn’t authentic enough.
“When [‘Luther’] first came out everybody loved the fact that Idris Elba was in there — a really strong, Black character lead,” Wayland said. “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.”
She wasn’t done: “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.”
But a number of people took issue with Wayland’s characterization. One of them was Calvin Robinson, a political advisor and commentator at the Telegraph and The Daily Mail. Robinson himself had recently been harassed for posting pictures of friends, none of whom were, like him, Black. He pushed back at both those attacking him and those attacking Elba’s Luther.
Great thing about Luther is that his skin colour 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.
— Calvin Robinson (@calvinrobinson) April 14, 2021
“These lazy stereotypes are racist!” Robinson wrote on Twitter. “Great thing about Luther is that his skin colour 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.”
Others pointed out that Luther is very authentic to Black life.
The police turn on Luther every chance they get. How is that NOT an authentic black character?
— Femi😷 (@Femi_Sorry) April 14, 2021
Others were simply confused.
So Idris Elba isn't black enough!? WTF!?!?
There's just no words!! pic.twitter.com/Y5wKWqIKmP
— Jon (@JonnyBWoode) April 14, 2021