Well, you've probably heard about The Midsomer Murders race row (where the producer announced that there was no place for ethnic minorities in his show).
My friend Lee reminded me that this isn't the first show to play the "last bastion of Englishness" card. He was talking about The Avengers - a show which had a "no blood or blacks" policy written into its writers guide ("NO COLOUREDS" got block caps, just to make sure). Just like Midsomer, kinky sex was fine, but not mutliculturalism.
What makes the Midsomer debacle all the worse is that The Avengers tried this policy in the 1960s. It was a silly policy then, designed to preserve The Avengers' picture postcard never-never England which made it such a scrummy international sale (it's the only English show ever to air on US network television, and was so popular in South Africa they made their own radio version. Go fig).
However, as a policy, it was also a failure. Quite a few black people ended up in The Avengers. They all appeared to have gone to Eton, but then so did everyone in The Avengers, even the gals. The show just couldn't tell interesting stories without them
So it's interesting that what The Avengers couldn't manage in the 60s some crackers bloke's managed to do in the 21st Century. Well, I say interesting. I probably mean repellant.
Mind you, racism is one of those bafflingly old-fashioned things. Like pressing flowers or shitting in the street. I still remember staying late at work to read the inbox after the first episode of new Doctor Who went out. It was an amazing evening. Reading through over a thousand emails, people who'd just got in touch to say what an amazing time they'd had, proud Dads sending in photos of their happily terrorised children... and one man who'd emailed to say "The best bit was when she dumped the c**n."
Yeah. Still makes me feel queasy.