Geoff Norcott

Geoff Norcott

BBC appoints Geoff Norcott to its diversity panel

Tory-voting comic is the first white man in the group

The BBC has appointed Tory-voting, Brexit-supporting comedian Geoff Norcott to be the first white man to serve on its diversity panel.

Norcott grew up on a council estate in Wimbledon, South London, and has said he does not identify with the ‘middle-class metropolitan types’ who vote Labour and to Remain in the EU.

The BBC has been accused of sharing that bias, not least by the comic himself.

In 2017, he wrote in the Daily Telegraph: ‘It is a problem that, across our major TV channels, the comedy world’s commentary on Brexit remains almost exclusively opposed to it.

‘It must seem odd to the comedy-watching public that a 50:50 vote in the country has seemingly played out one way on the small screen. Like you woke up one day in a world where no-one liked Marmite.’

The BBC said it had chosen Norcott to represent social mobility as he is from a white working class background. 

And writing on Twitter he said he said his voluntary role on the panel was to speak about working-class representation at the BBC. ‘Nothing about politics. Nothing about Brexit,’ he wrote. ‘Everyone relax.’

Members of the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group, who meet today, were chosen to monitor the BBC’s output and ensure it serves all sections of society.

Also on the panel are Adele Patrick, co-founder of the Glasgow Women's Library; presenter June Sarpong; Solomon Elliott, chief executive of The Student View; and Tanya Motie, former BBC One and BBC Three channel executive, as well as senior BBC executives.

BBC director-general Lord Hall, who will regularly attend the meetings,  said: ‘The BBC must represent the widest range of stories, faces and voices on screen, on air and behind the camera.

‘The combined knowledge, experience and skills of our new Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group will provide a fresh perspective on our ambitions.’

This is the BBC's second diversity and inclusion panel. The first, set up in 2014, included Sir Lenny Henry and Baroness (Floella) Benjamin.

The BBC executives on the panel are Charlotte Moore, director of content; Bob Shennan, group managing director; and Valerie Hughes D’Aeth, chief human resources officer.

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Published: 1 May 2019

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