BBC LGBT Study Praises “Doctor Who,” Calls For More Gay Presenters

A comprehensive study conducted by the BBC explores praised shows like Doctor Who and Torchwood for presenting diverse representations of the gay community, but indicated there is still plenty of room for improvement at the network.

Since it receives its funding from the public, “it’s one of the BBC’s public purposes to reflect the diversity of UK life,” Tim Davie, CEO of BBC Worldwide  said in a statement. “I’m proud to have led this work for three years, and this review underlines our commitment and sets a direction for the work to continue.”

The broadcasting corporation asked members of The Lesbian and Gay Foundation, the gay-rights group Stonewall and other advocacy organizations to conduct a full review on its portrayal of lesbians, gays and bisexuals. In addition, some 2,700 members of the British public were polled.

The report claims lesbians and bisexuals are relatively invisible on UK television, and chastised discussion of gay issues on news programs as “deliberately confrontational.” The Beeb should “reconsider the way in which it is perceived to set up these debates with two extreme perspectives,” wrote Clare Luke of Solitaire Consulting, who produced the report.
Other findings:
  • Gay and bisexual men seem relatively happy with the TV they consume (across all channels, not just the BBC) – lesbian and bisexual women perhaps less so
  • Both LGB men and women are more likely than heterosexual audiences to watch arts programming, and gay and bisexual men are also more likely to watch soap operas and continuing drama
  • Experts believe there should be a careful mix of incidental, overt and landmark types of LGB portrayal, and that LGB representation should reflect the diversity of LGB people, and avoid stereotypes
  • There is a call from the LGB experts who we interviewed for the BBC to be bolder and more creative in how it represents LGB people, and to lead the field in this area
  • Intimacy in same-sex relationships can be difficult for uncomfortable heterosexual audiences, for some parents and even for heterosexual people who are more comfortable with portrayal of LGB people
  • One in five heterosexual men said they thought there were too many LGB people on BBC television, and more than one in ten said there were uncomfortable with the portrayal of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the broadcast media.
  • Role models play an important role for LGB audiences keen to see a greater range and diversity of on-air and on-screen LGB presenters, performers, journalists etc.
  • There should be more out presenters in children’s television, “to familiarize audiences through incidental portrayal from an early age.”

Seriously, can you imagine this kind of discussion at CBS?