The Good Wife’s Archie Panjabi: American TV is better at diversity

“For Kalinda I was up against Korean people, Chinese, Japanese, African-American — they saw everybody”

Archie Panjabi says Britain lags behind America when it comes to casting actors from ethnically diverse backgrounds. 

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“The great thing about America is they have to have a certain number of people from a diverse background,” the British actress best known for her Emmy-winning role in The Good Wife says in the latest edition of Radio Times.

“For Kalinda I was up against Korean people, Chinese, Japanese, African-American — they saw everybody,” she continues. “Over here, in the week I decided to leave, I was auditioning for a BBC show, while in LA I had three studios offering me a deal straight off.”

However, Panjabi is hopeful Britain is heading in the right direction. “I think there have been a lot of promises made since Lenny Henry’s comments [about the lack of diversity in British television] and I’m optimistic. I’ve heard the right noises.” 

Panjabi has played bisexual investigator Kalinda in The Good Wife for six series and admits she may have influenced her recent appearance in The Fall, in which she played a pathologist who locked lips with Gillian Anderson’s detective. 

“When I was kissing her, Allan Cubitt, the show’s creator and director, had to say, ‘Archie, can you hold back?’ because Gillian was supposed to take me by complete surprise. I didn’t think I was very forward in [the scene], but obviously after a while a character starts to affect you.”

The forthcoming series of The Good Wife is her last but Panjabi will continue to work in the US. The network who make the show, Fox, are planning to create a show around her, and later this year she’ll appear alongside Dwayne Johnson and Paul Giamatti in action movie San Andreas later this year.

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Read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times magazine, on sale from Tuesday 20th January