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Lesbian representation in Lip Service “laughable”, BBC told

Real lesbian actors/writers make all the difference, says actors union Equity

Gemma Rose

Fri, 14 Dec 2012 15:59:34 GMT | Updated 4 years today

A BBC-commissioned report has claimed that the BBC 'should be more creative and bolder' in its depiction of LGBT people. It also states that LGBT people are 'still relatively invisible' across all media, and still very much stereotyped; especially lesbians and bisexuals.


When they were represented, the report said: "This representation still needs to reflect the diversity of LGB people and to avoid stereotypes."


There was praise for LGB presenters such as Clare Balding, Radio 1's Nick Grimshaw, and The Great British Bake-Off's Sue Perkins.


However, the BBC took criticism for BB3's Lip Service. The actors trade union Equity said: "Lip Service is written by a lesbian/bisexual woman. This makes a huge difference. However, the episodes were directed by men and the majority of the lesbian characters were played by heterosexual actors and this clearly impacts on the quality and integrity of the representation. Some of it was laughable."


Andy Wasley, from Stonewall, has said that the LGB community are still holding the short straw in the UK media. "Gay people contribute £216 million in licence fee payments to the BBC so we should expect our lives and concerns to be represented fairly. The BBC's new study shows there's still work to be done, despite some good progress."


Pulse, an independent audience reaction panel will now monitor audience feelings on the representations of LGB people on TV to help broadcasters meet expectations.


The report also called for more gay presenters on children's shows such as Big Brother's Brian Dowling on SMTV Live. It said it was important to help gay children by "incorporating representation within programming for children who are going through their informative years".


In comedy, it was ruled that LGB people being the butt of a joke was the 'biggest risk' unless the comedians themselves were gay.


A survey drawn upon in the report stated that more than one in ten people said that they felt uncomfortable with depictions of gay, lesbians and bisexual people on TV.


However, acting director general Tim Davie, chair of the BBC working group, said: "The BBC has a fundamental obligation to serve all its audiences. In fact, it's one of the BBC's public purposes to reflect the diversity of UK life."



Image: Out lesbian actor Heather Peace, photographed for DIVA, by Lezli+Rose

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