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Adjusting the ContrastBritish Television and Constructs of Race$
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Sarita Malik and Darrell M. Newton

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781526100986

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526100986.001.0001

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Myth of a multicultural England in BBC’s Luther

Myth of a multicultural England in BBC’s Luther

(p.153) 7 Myth of a multicultural England in BBC’s Luther
Adjusting the Contrast

Nicole M. Jackson

Manchester University Press

This chapter critiques the representation of Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) characters on Luther in the historical context of racism within the British police forces, particularly the Metropolitan Police Service (Met). Using social and cultural historical methodologies informed by British cultural and media studies, the chapter argues that, even though Luther has been lauded for positive representations of race, the show actually conforms to a multicultural paradigm, which has matured from the 1980s, that privileges assimilation, the tokenization of racialized ‘others’ and masks the continued marginalization of Black Britons. On 4 May 2010, Luther premiered on BBC One to mixed reviews. Anchored by Elba playing the titular John Luther, the show was a new twist on a comfortable English television standard: the detective series. In the Telegraph review of the first episode, Serena Davies praises Elba’s acting, but highlight’s Luther’s lack of originality. ‘It is formulaic… Its ‘big idea’ is that we know the killer from the start of each episode – something Columbo did for decades... His team think he’s unreliable but keep him on because of his brilliant criminal intuition (see also Wallander, Cracker, and Prime Suspect).’

Keywords:   Luther, British police, multicultural paradigm, assimilation, tokenization, originality, formulaic

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