BBC historian David Olusoga suffered depression over racism in UK TV industry

David Olusoga delivered a hard-hitting speech about the racism he faced in the British TV industry.

The BBC historian felt he was a ‘survivor’ in the industry rather than a success story.

He went on to describe ‘loneliness’ and being ‘patronised and marginalised’ and feels he only is where he is today because ‘a handful of people used their power and their privilege to help me.’

At one point things were so bad that he suffered from depression and had to seek professional help.

The Civilisations presenter, delivering the MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival, said: ‘Being the only black person on a production means being the only person asking certain questions, the only person uncomfortable that an image or a sequence reinforces certain stereotypes.

‘Like other black people I know in this industry I’ve spent my career complaining that scripts or rough cuts contain interviews with white experts, while all the black contributors are victims of the phenomena in question are speaking about their personal experiences – their feelings not their expertise.’

‘I’ve been in high demand, but I’ve also been on the scrap heap,’ he continued.

‘I’ve felt inspired, and convinced that our job – making TV and telling stories – is the best job in the world.

‘But at other times I’ve been so crushed by my experiences, so isolated and dis-empowered by the culture that exists within our industry, that I have had to seek medical treatment for clinical depression.

‘I’ve come close to leaving this industry on several occasions. And I know many black and brown people who have similar stories to tell.’

Addressing the recent resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, the BBC presenter said it has made society ‘have conversations that for decades we have put off or avoided.’

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