Sir Steve McQueen says he could have boycotted the BBC


Film-maker Sir Steve McQueen has criticised the BBC for not reacting fast enough to a news report which contained a racist term.

Social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin repeated a racial slur allegedly used in a suspected racially-motivated attack in Bristol, during her report on the incident.

The BBC initially defended the broadcast before later saying it “should have taken a different approach” and “we are very sorry for that”.

The 12 Years A Slave director told Radio Times magazine he would have boycotted the BBC if it had not subsequently apologised.

“That they didn’t react on the N-word is ridiculous,” said Sir Steve, whose Small Axe series, looking at the past experiences of London’s West Indian community, is currently airing on the BBC.

“I can’t tell you what I did. But there was going to be some kind of boycott on my part if that wasn’t corrected, because it was so offensive it was untrue.”

He added that the BBC is “bloody brilliant – but it’s for us to keep it in check…

“I love the BBC. From day one, I always said that I wanted my mum and people like her to switch on the TV and to see Small Axe.

“The BBC is a national broadcaster, these are national stories. I want them to reach the bloodstream of the country. The BBC has that facility, I respect it.”

Asked about new director-general Tim Davie’s diversity targets, he said: “There’s no perfect situation. All I want is for the BBC to give opportunity.

“Back in the day, the place that you’d see the most black people was in the canteen, where the ladies and porters would be black or Irish white working-class.

“For me, it’s about giving people the opportunity to be in a field that means excellence.

“It’s the BBC. I don’t want this kind of quota, but what I do want is opportunities that open doors for people of colour and women. It’s important, I can’t say how important enough.”

The Oscar-winner also criticised the British film industry, saying it “has not been welcoming to black and brown people. It’s not been attractive to them or seen as a possibility.”

He added: “I’m not asking for any advantage. I’m asking for these places of work to reflect the environment that they’re in.”

– The full interview is in Radio Times magazine, out now.