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Another episode of Midsomer madness

Even fictional, homicide-plagued English rural counties cannot escape multicultural social engineering.

Patrick Hayes

Topics Culture

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The announcement that Midsomer Murders executive producer Brian True-May is to leave his position following a media storm over his allegedly ‘racist’ remarks has seen a heartening number of commentators defend his freedom of expression. The hysteria following his remarks reveals not just another example of ‘PC-gone-mad’, but rather a more insidious attempt at social engineering, based on a profound contempt for the Middle Englanders who watch the show.

Listening to an audio recording of the Radio Times interview, recently released following the scandal, it’s striking just how half-baked True-May’s comments are. Commenting on a lack of ‘cosmopolitanism’ in the Midsomer Murders, True-May says he’s ‘never been picked up on that’ and then makes some off-the-cuff remarks that: ‘We don’t have other ethnic minorities involved because it just wouldn’t be the English village with them. It just wouldn’t work… We’re the last bastion of Englishness and I want to keep it that way.’

The interviewer follows up with the leading statement, ‘some people would say Englishness doesn’t include other races…’ True-May’s response? ‘Well it should do and maybe I’m not politically correct. But I’m trying to make something that appeals to a certain audience which seems to succeed and I don’t want to change it.’

Are these really the words of a strident racist on an ideological mission to make propagandistic programmes featuring a whitewashed Britain? Surely it’s more likely that his comments are a reaction to the apparent need for every TV programme to have a member of an ethnic minority in the programme to show off its multicultural credentials?

Indeed True-May has had a number of commentators and organisations speaking up in his defence, arguing for his right to freedom of expression, pointing out that most people who live in rural English villages actually are white and attacking the idea that Midsomer Murders should feel a mandate to accurately reflect the social make-up of twenty-first century Britain, when it hardly accurately reflects anything else. With a body count that one fansite reckons has reached 210 murders, 11 suicides and 12 accidental deaths in 80-odd episodes, Midsomer is not your typical sleepy English county.

But none of this has mattered one jot when it came to the question of whether or whether not True-May could keep his job, with a wide range of shrill left-wing activists, equal opportunities campaigners and politicians making his position untenable. As MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Ethnic Minority Taskforce, put it: ‘The decision to exclude ethnic minorities from Midsomer Murders not only misrepresents modern Britain, but also dismisses the valuable role ethnic minority’s play in enriching our country.’

Why, some have asked, has it taken almost 15 years for Midsomer Murders to be exposed in such a way? For the answer, we need go no further than TV comedy producer Ash Atalla, commenting on the scandal on BBC Radio 4’s Today: ‘I really think the whole thing is a bit like when you have a mad old uncle round for Christmas lunch and they say something rather extreme about homosexuality or about colour… I think he should be kept away from the world’s media in future.’

There you have it. True-May is like a ‘mad old uncle’ who should be tolerated as long as he doesn’t open his mouth. A Neanderthal whose time is nearly up, so it’s not worth arguing with him, or trying to enlighten him, he just needs to be kept from voicing his concerns in polite society.

However, this isn’t really about True-May, it’s about his audience: the aging Middle Englanders, the vast swathes of mad old uncles and aunts who read the Daily Mail, tune in to whitewashed programmes featuring quaint English villages and period dramas as escapism, and hide away from the realities of the ethnically diverse Multicultural Britain in backward pockets of rural England.

As Atalla puts it, ‘the audience of Midsomer Murders are an extremely conservative audience. [True-May’s] comments are that people don’t like change. I think that is probably true of his audience. But the thing about things that don’t like change is that they eventually die out, don’t they?’

But as soon as one of these bigoted ‘things that don’t like change’ dares to voice concerns, they can’t just be left to die; they must be silenced. And True-May, however clumsily, committed the cardinal sin of challenging the conception that all TV programmes should conform to an ideal of twenty-first century multicultural Britain.

Campaigners have since started lobbying strongly for ‘programmes like Midsomer Murders… to be more responsible in using the power they have in shaping national identity’. With True-May ousted, it’s now surely only a matter of time before his ‘last bastion of Englishness’ crumbles and is dragged into the twenty-first century with the introduction of ‘token’ ethnic characters.

A blind eye may have been turned to Midsomer Murders – it’s been permitted to exist without having to try to socially engineer the audience as a consolation to our aging, unreformed, mad old relatives: the dying remnants of pre-Multicultural Britain who don’t like change. But, as the True-May case shows, if you even appear to be putting your head above the parapet and voicing a concern, then it’s going to be lopped off.

Patrick Hayes is a reporter for spiked.

David Bowden is away.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

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