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BBC News presenter Jane Hill: Gays and lesbians need better representation on TV and radio

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  1. Appreciate her saying so. And she is, of course, completely correct. Will anything change? Nope.

    The BBC has a remit and the ability to produce “niche” viewing, given its unique funding model. It will produce a whole channel for people who speak Welsh (who can also speak english anyway) but we are still reduced to tokenism, and the same old standard tropes that we have all seen before and which do not tell our story.

    There is more to us than identity navel-gazing, coming out angst and families falling out of sexual orientation.

    1. Agreed. I’d like to see a wide range of people portrayed in dramas who *just happen* to be LGBT. So many LGBT characters only seem to be there because of their sexuality.

      But I have no problem with minority British language channels. I’m a language nerd :D Just because we can all speak English doesn’t mean we shouldn’t support the other native languages of the UK (if ‘native’s the right word there). The BBC should spend its money more carefully and more cleverly, then there’d be room for a wider spread of stuff, I hope.

      1. Bill Cameron 1 Feb 2013, 4:54pm

        It is probably not – ‘autochtonous’ is probably more precise. However, I welcome the diversity of languages which now exists in the UK, whether minority autochtonous languages or languages from elsewhere which are now fairly widespread here, such as Polish, Urdu, Hindi or Swahili and a whole lot more besides :)

        1. Thanks, Bill :) Struggling not to go off on a ramble about languages here, so I’ll just say that I welcome the diversity of languages in the UK too, and worldwide.

      2. Spanner1960 2 Feb 2013, 2:12pm

        You beat me to it.
        I was about to say the same thing. Having “gay dramas” is all well and good, but they have limited appeal unless you are gay or lesbian.

        Far better to just drop gay people into the mix. There doesn’t even have to be anything sexual or romantic. Considering we are supposed to be 6% of the population, we rarely get a mention.

        I personally hate soaps which seem to be the only shows with gay threads, so why can’t we have a crime thriller or a costume drama or even sci-fi, fantasy, horror etc that just happens to have gay people?

        1. Absolutely. All those genres would work perfectly with LGBT characters. I often watch new sci fi or thrillers hoping that just one of the characters will turn out to be LGBT and there’ll be no big drama and no fanfare, they’ll just get on with solving crimes, navigating space or whatever.

          I often wonder whether the writers purposely avoid doing so – or if it doesn’t even occur to them.

    2. Im one of those people who speak Welsh & English & I watch quite a few programmes on S4C. Yes, the majority of us can speak both English & Welsh, but for many, Welsh is our first language. We pay the licence fee too, so why shouldn’t we have programmes in our first language? What about BBC ALBA which is Scottish Gaelic? I’m sure far less people in Scotland speak that but they now have a channel too. Diversity of language is a good thing, & they all need to be kept going as part of our collective heritage. Plus, up until a couple of months ago when one of the actors left on maternity leave, Pobol Y Cwm (the Welsh language soap) had three gay characters. Two women who were married & a gay man who has had several boyfriends. PYC also did a male rape storyline last year. Not bad for a ‘niche’ show..

      I agree with your point though. I think the BBC has one of the worst records when it comes to lgbt characters. Most are there to provide the punchline to a joke and to them thats inclusion.

      1. According to the 2011 census 19.4% percent of the population of Wales can speak Welsh, 14.6% fluently. That’s not a majority but you are right, it is more than Scottish Gaelic.

    3. Is the presence of gay men on adult BBC TV, aside from News and Current Affairs, still really deficient? L&T are just about invisible, and B women too. News and Current Affairs, and Children’s TV are very problematic areas. And also the initial official BBC response to any criticisms, which is like knee jerk and nothing more, still.

      Its a great shame Jane Hill wasn’t asked specifically about LGBT news on the BBC, or indeed women’s news. But then, despite doing some supposed “interviews” BBC news presenters are mostly not journalists, just good readers.

  2. Lots of us share concerns over what’s been happening at the BBC.

    Rather than just making her views known to the pink press, ideally Jane Hill needs to ask to speak to Acting Director-General, Tim Davie, about proper representation.

    1. Paula Thomas 1 Feb 2013, 3:06pm

      Do you know that she hasn’t – she strikes me as the kind of woman who will speak her mind once she knows it.

  3. It is good to see Jane and others speaking out.. Personally speaking, I feel that LGBT people shouldn’t be segregated in television programmes or in the media, but rather ‘integrated’. Clare Balding did a fantastic job presenting the Olympics but being a lesbian doesn’t define her ability in her job. The same as Val McDermid is an outstanding writer, Horse a brilliant vocalist, Susan Calman a wonderful comedienne who are also lesbians. It would be great to see a variety of programmes featuring all artists regardless of gender, sexuality, looks, race or age…

    1. Bill Cameron 1 Feb 2013, 5:07pm

      It is good that there are people such as Jane Hill on the BBC. She is a very good newsreader. Period. I’m a bit worried that pigeon-holing her as gay/lesbian is not the way to go – everybody who is interested knows she is lesbian, but her sexuality should not be of paramount importance, although of course neither should it be brushed aside. In an ideal world it should simply not be an issue, although I’m well aware we have not reached that ideal state yet.

      What bugs me a lot more is that many of the ‘gay/lesbian’ story-lines in popular soaps end up with suicides/scandal/violence – although that is what these popular dramas live on, whatever the sexuality of the characters. However, just once in a while I’d like to see a storyline about a gay/lesbian where they entered the soap as a normal person and left it many years later as an untroubled normal person, or if they had to leave for some dramatic purpose in the story-line that their sexuality was not the issue.

      1. You mean like the woman of transsexual history in Coronation Street? The BBC seems never to have quite learned how to do soaps.

  4. That There Other David 1 Feb 2013, 3:00pm

    I don’t think there’s a lack of LGB people on the BBC except in dramas that don’t involve some tortuous coming-out story. A large number of the LGB people on the network’s factual programming go under the radar, but when you think about it there are quite a few.

    However, there is definitely a lack of transgendered people, to the point where there is virtually no representation at all. That’s definitely in need of attention.

  5. Absolutely. Listened to the “Today” programme this morning. They interviewed *just* some people opposed to same sex marriage in David Burrowes constituency:-)

    Not even pretending to be unbiased now.

    1. That’s a total disgrace. You should complain to the BBC. However, by repeatedly exposing the bigotry and blatant homophobia of old Tories, perhaps the more rational among ‘Today’s’ listenership will eventually be persuaded that the Christian right are simply wrong and belong where they currently reside – in the Middle Ages.

      1. I did telephone and left a message on the Comments/complaints automated phone line. I really do think there is some theocratic influence in senior management and/or in the BBC trust. Which we are all obliged to fund:-)

    2. Robert in S. Kensington 1 Feb 2013, 4:54pm

      Yes, quite right, I heard that too, vile, disgusting. Clearly the BBC isn’t impartial judging from the continuous programmes dedicated to opposing equal marriage. I’ve not heard them interview one in support. It’s infested with religious bigots it seems but that’s always been the case hasn’t it and it has always pandered to conservative nutters.

  6. For all we know there may be dozens of gay people who appear on our screens. They just choose not to advertise the fact. So, is Ms Hill advocating some sort of gays-only channel? I’m not sure there is a need for that but I do agree that gay people are under represented as far as positive news reporting is concerned. The only time gay issues seem to be mentioned on the national news is in a negative context – church against gay marriage; HIV on the rise, etc. Surely, there must be some good news on same-sex issues from somewhere in the world?

    1. There is very little news that is actually “good news”. Nowadays, it always seems to be reports of things that are going wrong in society and the world in general. Good News apparently isn’t newsworthy! ho hum!

  7. AnnaSmith 1 Feb 2013, 4:32pm

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  8. There are far too many homosexuals on tv as it is. Not every street has a homo

    1. Robert in S. Kensington 1 Feb 2013, 4:51pm

      And far too many repressed psychopathically self-loathing closet cases like you who can’t stay away from Pink News.

    2. That There Other David 1 Feb 2013, 4:56pm

      However, a lot of streets have many. In my block of flats in London there are 120-odd homes. A good 20 or so of those flats have gay or lesbian residents.

      So from my point of view there should be a lot more gay characters on television if it were to reflect real life. Especially the likes of EastEnders or Coronation Street which are supposedly set in cities with large LGBT populations.

      1. Corrie is reasonably ok these days. Will be sorry to see Hayley leave at the end of the year though

      2. Spanner1960 2 Feb 2013, 2:21pm

        It’s not even cities. I live a quite town in the Cotswolds and I know at least a dozen gay people just through word of mouth, and I am sure there are loads more.

    3. Spanner1960 2 Feb 2013, 2:17pm

      Actually, you might well be wrong there.
      I would imagine most larger streets have at least one.

  9. Robert in S. Kensington 1 Feb 2013, 4:49pm

    I commend her but I doubt if anything she may say to the AG or others of influence will do anything to change the BBC. Just look at it’s biased programming for those in opposition to equal marriage and nary a discussion of those in support. I was deeply disappointed StonewallUK didn’t do anything about it but not surprised either. It might have made a bit of difference had they done so. Makes you wonder why we’re paying a licence fee for unfair and inadequate representation.

  10. Brett Gibson 1 Feb 2013, 5:43pm

    Apparently in the UK we have much better inclusion of gay people on TV and radio than other forward-thinking nations like those of Europe and the Anglosphere. It would be great if they weren’t always camp girly men or if the story line wasn’t ALWAYS about homophobia. Like how about just a nice normal depiction of normal gay people.

    1. What is wrong with them being “camp or girly men”? I’m tired of people thinking that to “be a real man you have to be macho or “straight acting”. If you’re “effeminate” or “masculine” good for you, I couldn’t care less, all that matters is if you’re a decent person. Is there less value to men who are more in touch with their feminine side? I think not, I think testosterone is the cause of most of the problems on this planet. Such nonsense talking about “real men” runs parallel to misogyny.

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