BBC criticised over lack of diversity among choristers

The choir performed inside an empty church on Christmas Eve. (BBC)
The choir performed inside an empty church on Christmas Eve. (BBC)

The BBC has been criticised for failing to feature any BAME choristers in its annual broadcast of Carols From King’s.

The performance, which takes place from Cambridge University’s King’s College, this year featured 13 young musicians from the King’s Singers instead of the college’s own choir.

The King’s College Cambridge’s adult choristers had been due to perform until two days before the concert, when they were forced into self-isolation because two members tested positive for coronavirus.

However, viewers of the BBC2 broadcast complained about the lack of diversity amongst the choristers.

CAMBRIDGE, UNITED KINGDOM - May 22, 2020 -- Photo taken on May 22, 2020 shows a view of King's College, University of Cambridge, in Cambridge, England. According to local media, there will be no face-to-face lectures at the University of Cambridge over the course of the next academic year due to COVID-19. However, lectures will be available to students online and it may be possible to host smaller teaching groups in person if they meet social distancing requirements, the university said. (Photo by Tim Ireland/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Han Yan via Getty Images)
The concert takes place every year at King's College, Cambridge. (Getty)

Twitter user Sue Hillyard said: “Great to see such Christmas Eve diversity #carolsfromkings.”

LA Times journalist Anousha Sakoui said: “Glad im not the only one who felt that way. we ended up switching it off.

While another Twitter user said: “Why didn’t the #BBC feature an additional Christmas programme involving carols etc from a gospel choir? We’d have loved to have seen this.”

A spokesman for King’s later told the Mail On Sunday that the “diversity of the College was not expressed” because of the late changes.

“King's College is a diverse community whose commitment to equality of access and wider participation is reflected in every aspect of College life,” they said.

“Sadly, the diversity of the College was not expressed in the televised service because a number of participants were required to self-isolate just before filming commenced following positive tests for COVID-19.”

This year’s performance saw the choristers perform to an empty congregation and maintain social distancing throughout because of the coronavirus scare.

Prior to the show, the college’s dean, the Rev Dr Stephen Cherry, thanked the King’s Singers for standing in.

“We are all hugely grateful to the King’s Singers for stepping up at the last minute,” he said.

“They have shown tremendous goodwill and consummate professionalism.

“Our young choristers also responded very positively and with real maturity to the several challenges faced in re-imagining the programme, and together they have enabled us to offer a wonderful Christmas service at extraordinarily short notice.”

Yahoo News UK has contacted the BBC and King’s College, Cambridge, for comment.