Today, March 25th sees the launch of Sir Lenny Henry’s new research centre aimed at examining and increasing diversity across the UK’s media. The launch will take place online due to the Covid-19 health crisis.

Birmingham City University’s ‘Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity’ will provide independent, data-driven, and authoritative analysis combined with first-hand insights relating to representation across the industry including journalism, acting, film, TV and radio in both public-facing roles (on-screen and on-mic) and in production/editorial roles.

The launch will also highlight the work of the actors’ union Equity from their diversity monitoring of mainstream broadcast media. Having monitored 53 weeks of UK terrestrial television (BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4) for scripted dramas they found:

  1. There are no recurring roles for East Asians on continuing dramas.
  2. There were only 15 appearances by East Asian actors out of 491 episodes of continuing drama.
  3. Across all dramas, leading roles were played by a non-white actor only 8% of the time.

Highlighting Equity’s work is part of the ethos of the Centre to work with other organisations and give them a platform to share their findings with a wider audience.

The Centre is the brainchild of leading champions of diversity Professor Sir Lenny Henry CBE, Chancellor of Birmingham City University, Marcus Ryder, Visiting Professor of Media Diversity and Executive Producer for Caixin Media, Diane Kemp, Centre Director and Professor of Broadcast Journalism at Birmingham City University and Marverine Duffy, Senior Lecturer and Director of undergraduate Journalism courses at Birmingham City University

The Centre aims to:

  • Create an open archive of diversity publications by academics, broadcasters, unions and trade bodies
  • Build and support institutional memory of best practice
  • Conduct new and focused research on diversity
  • Offer analysis on diversity initiatives and policies

The Centre’s ethos is based on valuing collaboration across the sector as already outlined in our work with Equity. The Equity research was conducted by Dr Jami Rogers.


Find out more here.