Jimmy McGovern: The struggle to find actors for working-class roles is changing the drama we make

"It's only the posh ones who can afford to go into acting," says the creator of Cracker and new historical drama Banished. "And it affects the kind of British drama that gets made"

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Screenwriter Jimmy McGovern has criticised the number of “posh” actors working in Britain, saying there are “fewer and fewer” people who can convincingly play working-class men.

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The writer of Cracker and upcoming BBC2 historical drama Banished says that the lack of diversity is affecting the types of dramas made in this country.

“I’m constantly looking round for actors who can convincingly portray working-class men,” says McGovern in an interview in this week’s issue of Radio Times magazine. “They’re getting fewer and fewer because it’s only the posh ones who can afford to go into acting. And it affects the kind of British drama that gets made.”

McGovern said he only realised the extent of the problem while casting for his new BBC2 drama Reg, about the anti-war campaigner Reg Keys who stood against Tony Blair following the death of his son in Iraq. 

“If this was old-time Hollywood, you’d get Gary Cooper or James Stewart in the Reg Keys role,” he said. “But that’s a real problem we’ve got in Britain today.”

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Read the full interview with Jimmy McGovern and much more in this week’s Radio Times, out in shops and with bonus material on the Apple Newsstand from Tuesday 23rd February