WORKING-CLASS kids are being frozen out of potential TV careers by snooty BBC bosses, says Britain’s new Culture Secretary.
Nadine Dorries warns it is almost impossible to break into broadcasting or entertainment unless people are posh.
But the former I’m A Celebrity star has caused shockwaves at Broadcasting House by vowing to tear down class barriers throughout the entertainment world.
She quipped: “I could almost hear the almond latte cups hitting the floor at the BBC when I got this job.”
In her first interview since joining the Cabinet, Ms Dorries revealed she has made it her mission to end class prejudice at the Beeb.
And she has hit the ground running by hauling in bosses to order them to recruit more people from humble backgrounds.
Mum-of-three Ms Dorries sees herself as well qualified to “level up” the entertainment industry, having been raised in a council house in Breck Road, Liverpool — officially listed among the UK’s most deprived communities.
She said: “I don’t want to go to war with the BBC, but they have got to come to the table with firm proposals about what they are going to do about impartiality and access.”
It is scandalous, she said, that to get on these days, people need a double-barrelled surname, a private education and a posh mum or dad who are well connected.
The 64-year-old added: “No matter whose name you think of today that has made it in theatre, TV and the arts, they come from a pretty privileged background.
I come from a poor family, yet rose to be a best-selling author and now I have an opportunity to challenge these organisations to do more in places where the inspiration and aspiration has gone.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Ms Dorries told how she:
FEARED the PM had called her in to say “thank you and goodbye” when she was summoned to No10 to be offered a Cabinet job;
WAS shocked by the sneering of some political pundits over her big promotion;
SEES her role as a “gift” that has given her the chance to change the lives of people from her own background;
WILL defend free speech by tackling woke “group-think” and “cancel culture” in the media, sport and the arts;
AIMS to roll out high-speed broadband to every area of the UK by the
next general election, and;
WILL build on the success of star Emma Raducanu by creating or refurbishing tennis courts in every public park.
I come from a poor family, yet rose to be a best-selling author and now I have an opportunity to challenge these organisations
But her burning ambition is to unleash the talent of under-privileged youngsters by widening access to sport, culture and the arts for all.
Sitting in her new Whitehall office, Ms Dorries explained why it’s even harder to break into the sector now than when she was a child in the 1960s.
She told The Sun on Sunday: “I came from Liverpool — a city that gave us Blood Brothers, The Beatles and Lynda La Plante.
I could reel off so many others who have entered the entertainment sector and done really well. But they don’t today.
“If you want to do well as an actress — yes, I still say actress — then your name needs to be Daisy Edgar-Jones and your dad has to be head of entertainment at Sky.
“Failing that, your mum or dad has to know someone. You need to have gone to a public or private school and to be in that swim to get on.
“We had a challenge session a few days ago to try and name people in the arts from a working-class family.
“Somebody mentioned Phoebe Waller-Bridge. No, I said. She went to a private school. James Norton? No, he was privately educated, too.
“Now I have an opportunity to do something about it. And I intend to seize it.”
Last week, she set about her mission by calling in BBC chiefs for “constructive conversations” about improving impartiality and access to jobs.
Ofcom’s five-year review of diversity and equal opportunities in broadcasting has raised concerns about the lack of people from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
There are kids all over the country who could be talented actors or musicians. They just don’t get the chance
The watchdog’s figures show TV staff were almost twice as likely to have parents in professional jobs or to have gone to private school.
Ms Dorries said: “When I talk about access, I mean the make-up of who works at the BBC. They often tell us what percentage of their employees are gay, black or trans. I’m not talking about that.
“I’m talking about what the BBC is doing to represent the vast number of low socio-economic, non-diverse areas in the UK. Places like Breck Road, like Leicester and Bradford. Towns and cities with big council estates and strong working-class communities.
“It’s almost like they have forgotten about them. They didn’t think they really mattered because nobody was raising the issue.
“It’s about group-think. The BBC thinks in one way about lots of issues. But that groupthink is out of step with what the majority of other people in the UK think.”
Despite her robust lecture to senior executives, Ms Dorries insisted she is a big admirer of the BBC. She calls it “a beacon” for news reporting and the arts around the world and is a big fan of its dramas.
“I love the BBC,” she insisted, “but it is in a competitive environment now.
“We’ve got Netflix and Amazon Prime and a lot more going on in the digital sector and the BBC is in danger of becoming a dinosaur if it doesn’t change quickly.”
Ms Dorries admitted that she has personal experience of class prejudice. She was “utterly shocked” by the sneering by some commentators over her promotion.
She said: “It’s sad that there are some people who just don’t like to see people from my background get on.
TV staff are almost twice as likely to have parents in professional jobs or to have gone to private school
“It just doesn’t fit in with their image of a Conservative government — which is that everybody is posh. But it’s like water off a duck’s back to me.”
Ms Dorries said she was shocked to be offered her new role by Boris Johnson.
But she added: “It was ten minutes before it sank in what a gift he had given me — because the Government’s priority is about levelling up.
“To me, levelling up is about delivering to people who have never had opportunity before.
“There are kids all over the country who could be talented actors or musicians. They just don’t get the chance.
“That’s what my department is about and what it has to deliver. That’s my mission.”
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