The kiddie programme Balamory has eight main characters:
- Archie, a white English man in a kilt
- Edie, a white Scottish woman
- Josie, a black English woman
- Ms Hoolie, a white Scottish woman
- PC Plum, a white Scottish man
- Penny, a white English woman
- Spencer, a black American man
- Suzie, a white Scottish woman
That is, there are five women and three men. Four of them are white Scottish, two are white English, one is black English and one is black American.
That didn’t strike me as looking particularly as the Scotland I know, where the main immigrant groups are Asian (i.e., Indian and Pakistani) and Chinese.
So I checked the latest census figures. I’ll ignore the gender composition in the following, which of course should have been four men and four women.
If Balamory had been like Scotland in 2001, the composition should have been as follows:
- 7 white Scottish
- 0.8 white other (typically English)
- 0.1 Asian
- 0.1 others
If the BBC wanted to reflect the UK as a whole instead of Scotland, the figures are as follows:
- 7.4 white
- 0.3 Asian
- 0.2 black
- 0.1 others
Even if the casting was done in London, the figures are still skewed. Here are the figures for London in 2001:
- 5.7 white
- 1.0 Asian
- 0.9 black
- 0.4 other
So why did the BBC go for this set-up?
I’m all in favour of representing all of the country’s ethnic groups on TV, and of course you can’t have 0.1 Asian in a programme, but what’s the point in making the world look different?
Are they trying to make the UK look like America?