Bear with me on this, however trivial it may sound. A couple of months ago the BBC announced that they were introducing a new character to Eastenders – 24 yr old Syed Mahmood, played by actor Marc Elliot.
A few people emailed me angrily asking why, given there were so few Asian actors on TV as it is, were the BBC was giving such a prominent part to a non-Asian actor. I think that’s a fair question. At the time no one at the BBC wanted to comment.
Now the BBC has told the Media Guardian that Syed Mahmood will share a gay kiss and find his “religion and sexual feelings in conflict”. It got me thinking – perhaps they avoided hiring someone Muslim for that part precisely because they were worried the actor may not be willing to act out a gay kiss. I’ve seen non-Muslim Asian actors do gay scenes on television / film (Jimi Mistry, famously) but not anyone Muslim.
So is religious baggage is holding back Muslim actors? I bet to a certain extent casting directors avoid Muslim actors for that reason.
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Filed in: British Identity,Media,Sex equality