BBC House Through Time: David Olusoga slams lack of diversity in TV saying he’s more interested in ordinary people than the ‘elite’


TV historian David Olusoga, who hosts BBC Two’s hit show A House Through Time, has slammed the lack of diversity on British TV.

He told the Radio Times that the continuing lack of people from different backgrounds on TV was harming the quality of programmes put out.

He said he was sick of programmes about Kings, Queens and the “elite” and would be far more interested in a programme about “ordinary people”

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Olusoga, 51, was born to a working class family with a British mother and Nigerian father in Lagos before moving to a council estate in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, in the North East, aged five.

David Olusoga at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2019

He said of the state of TV: “I’ve met very few people in my 20 years in television who have ever set foot on a council estate like the one I was brought up on, who have any understanding of life on those estates, or of people on zero-hours contracts, or who are struggling.

“And I think that lack of experience weakens us as a profession in telling the stories of the whole nation. In terms of race, class and other metrics, we have historically failed.”

A House Through Time is an outlier in this respect.

Hosted by Olusoga the first three series took viewers through the history of houses in Liverpool, Newcastle, and Bristol, covering topics from slavery, to the chartist movement, and other events shaping the lives of the ordinary people who lived there down the centuries.

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The fourth series is currently underway focusing this time on a six-bedroomed Victorian house in Leeds.

Olusoga continued: “I’m not interested, and never have been interested, in the stories of the elite.

“We do enough kings and queens and generals and prime ministers.

“It’s not to denigrate that form of history, it’s just that there’s a lot of it being done already and I’m less interested in that than in the lives of ordinary people.”

You can catch David tonight (September 7) at 9pm on BBC Two for the third episode in series four of A House Through Time.

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