This might be a first!
A BBC comedian has alleged that the network fired him because he is “white and male.”
BAFTA award winner Jon Holmes, who appeared on Radio 4’s “The Now Show” for 18 years, said he was axed from the program when contractors told him in an “awkward conversation” that they were “recasting it with more women and diversity.”
Sad to announce I've been axed from @BBCNowShow as 'we want to recast with more women and diversity' Tsk. And I didn't even punch a producer— Jon Holmes (@jonholmes1) September 26, 2016
Writing to the Daily Mail on Sunday, Holmes argued only the best candidates should get the job regardless of ethnicity.
“Should I, as a white man (through no fault of my own), be fired from my job because I am a white man?” he said in a statement. “Call me crazy but what if, regardless of skin color, or anything else, the best candidate gets the job?”
The comedian added after posting the tweet, he was contacted by agents and other actors who claimed they also missed out on roles because they were “too white and middle class.”
Holmes’ dismissal comes on the heels of the BBC’s April announcement, which revealed targets to ensure a 50 percent female workforce by 2020.
The network also wants to increase people of color in its work environment by at least 15 percent, while LGBTQ community should make 8 percent of the staff.
In 2001, the BBC’s ex-director general Greg Dyke also called the network “hideously white” and since then, the BBC has been under pressure to increase diversity in its workforce.
Holmes also revealed that his bosses, the ones responsible for setting up the diversity rule, got in touch with him and told him things had “all got out of hand.”
“It was never about sacking people who already do the job and simply replacing them to tick a box,” one executive reportedly admitted.
Reacting with outrage, racial equality manager Trevor Phillips said that by firing Holmes, the BBC showed it doesn’t “believe black or Asian people are as good as white people.”
Leading gay human rights activist Peter Tatchell was also against the decision.
“Perhaps rather than giving Jon the boot, the BBC could reduce his input and give some of his slots to women and black comedians,” said Tatchell. “That would satisfy everybody.”
However, when asked, a BBC spokesperson denied the allegations made by Holmes.
“While the government's new charter for the BBC does set us diversity targets, we always hire presenters on merit,” he said. “We’d like to thank Jon Holmes for his contribution, but our comedy shows are constantly evolving and it was simply time to create opportunities for new regulars when “The Now Show” returns this autumn.”
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Olivia Harris