UK viewers call for greater diversity on screen ahead of Oscars

Black Panther: six out of 10 Brits like films and TV shows with diverse casts
Black Panther: six out of 10 Brits like films and TV shows with diverse casts

UM research finds TV and film do not portray society authentically.

Almost half (48%) of UK consumers believe that TV and film have failed to represent society authentically, research by UM has revealed.

The study, which comes as Black Panther picked up seven Oscar nominations, found that six out of 10 Brits like watching TV and film with diverse casts, with this figure rising to 64% of those aged 16 to 24. A similar proportion (61%) believe both the small and big screen should "reflect society as it is".

UM's research is part of a wider study into UK consumers that looks at stereotyping in advertising.

It found that young audiences aged 16 to 24 are leading the call for diversity, with 47% keen to see more black, Asian and minority-ethnic people on screen (compared with 34% of all Brits) and 42% eager to see more LGBT+ representation (compared with 27% of all UK adults).

The research added that six out of 10 viewers of Wonder Woman and Killing Eve enjoyed seeing female lead characters. In both cases, this rose to 72% among those aged 16-24. Additionally, more than half of those aged 16-24 (53%) who watched Mary Poppins Returns enjoyed seeing positive representations of single fathers.

Michael Brown, head of insight at UM, said: "The demand for diversity is clear and this will only become more important over time as younger viewers seem to be demonstrably most progressive in their views.

"This is a message that both studios and advertisers would be wise to heed. Let’s remember that a 25-year-old black actress, Letitia Wright, who picked up the EE Rising Star award at this year’s Baftas, was the number one movie star by global box office receipts in 2018."

He added that the cinema industry is one of the most buoyant channels in media today, with 5% year-on-year box office growth last year despite a World Cup, a heatwave and the widespread uptake of on-demand video content.

UM's research series has lifted the lid on a range of misconceptions about society. It previously revealed that while the Office for National Statistics estimates that 2% of the population is lesbian, gay or bisexual, its research found that 26% of the population does not identify as straight, equating to a population of more than 14 million people.

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