'Wire' star calls for Brit TV to diversify

Idris Elba promotes multiculturalism in upcoming BBC series

CANNES -- "The Wire" star Idris Elba wants British television to stop talking onscreen diversity and "just do it": Put more actors of color onto Brit shows and series.

"If you look at American television, it is nothing to see a cast that is multiracial," the English actor said. "So we shouldn't shy away from demanding more diversity on British TV. Only because it reflects the culture we live in."

Elba, pointed to his new project, BBC crime series "Luther," as an example of how diversity can be built into the scripts of British shows. Elba stars as a brilliant but dangerously violent London murder detective in the 6x50-minute series created by "Spooks" writer Neil Cross. The actor, best known for his role as Stringer Bell on "The Wire," also took on associate producer duties for the project, which will premiere on BBC One this spring.

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"Diversity was one of the first things I asked about as a producer," Elba said, "How many other races are we going to see? Because it would be very odd if Luther was the only black person in the series ... so we see many different ethnic groups on screen. That is important to me, and one of the reasons I wanted to do it."

"Luther" also stars Ruth Wilson, Steven Mackintosh, Indira Varma, Paul McGann and Saskia Reeves. BBC Worldwide, which is selling the series to international buyers at MIPTV, is pitching it as akin to "Dexter" -- a dark, cutting-edge procedural with a strong psychological component. BBC has presold "Luther" to TV4 in Sweden and Belgian network VRT.
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