Sophie Duker takes a stance on News Quiz diversity | 'I won't return unless another black person is in the credits'

Sophie Duker takes a stance on News Quiz diversity

'I won't return unless another black person is in the credits'

Sophie Duker says she will no longer appear on The News Quiz unless it employs more black people.

The comic will appear on tonight’s episode, but says she will donate her fee to charity and won’t return unless the show addresses its diversity.

Duker also explained she was only parachuted into this episode at the last minute because the initial all-white line-up would have appeared inappropriate in a week when racial politics has dominated the agenda.

In a series of tweets, she explained: ‘A little thing before the weekend: I'mma be on @BBCRadio4's @TheNewsQuiz tonight discussing #BlackLivesMatter. I love this show & its host & the entire team, but I'm donating my fee & I won't return as a guest unless another black person is in the credits as a writer or comic.’

She said she found speaking on this week’s issues draining, explaining: Like so many black people right now (and in general tbh) I'm physically & emotionally exhausted. I knew we'd be asked a question pertaining to #BlackLivesMatter and I prepared a speech. My first take in the record was the first time I got to the end of the speech without crying.

‘I've found it too painful to speak on socials much. I wanted to speak on this on the Beeb to try & communicate to an audience who wouldn't by default be on my side. To say certain names that haven't been said or learned nearly enough. Tony McDade [a transs black man shot by police in Florida last month]. Naomi Hersi [a trans black woman stabbed to death in a hotel near Heathrow Airport in 2018]. Belly Mujinga. [the rail worker who died of Covid-19 after a man spat in her face at Victoria Station].’

But she also said she was not a representative of all black people, and that producers should hire more than one comedian of colour on their shows – as well as saying she was more than capable of making jokes about  issues beyond race.

‘I'm fucking funny & more than capable of smashing the shit out of your tv show or writers room,’ she wrote. ‘But I also know for a fact I'm not the only black artist who is. And I'm so often alone, the first, or the token. And I'm just ONE weird black girl! I'M VERY DIFFERENT TO A LOT OF THEM

‘Too often powers that be see "no people of colour in this room" then parachute just one in. The pressure to not fuck it up can be paralysing when you're seen as an ambassador not an individual. there's SO MUCH BLACK EXCELLENCE out there, but only a few get invited in at a time.

‘Why are my melanated peers so frustrated in the UK? Why does it feel like once I'm in the room, some people think their work is done? The UK needs to see and hear all kinds of black people talking about things other than our own pain. I ALSO HAVE THOUGHTS ON AIRPLANE FOOD.

‘I'm grateful to the industry allies that give me jobs. A lot of them are white. Obviously. In the media, the people with the kind of power to give a newbie a job almost always are. Keep hiring my black arse (I need to eat) just hire & promote other black people as well.

‘This decision to maybe not return to one show I've loved doing, run by good people, might be emotional & arbitrary, not a smart career move or inconsequential. But it's a small thing I can control in a world that feels impossible. I hope, even under my terms, I'll be back soon.’

Duker has donated her News Quiz fee to the Exist Loudly Fund, which supports queer black young people in the UK.

Angela Barnes hosts tonight’s show with Jen Brister, Lucy Porter and Hugo Rifkind as the other guests. It airs at 6.30pm.

Chortle has approached Radio 4 for comment.

Published: 5 Jun 2020

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