Line of Duty’s Lennie James on diversity in acting: “It has got better but it’s not good enough”

The star of Critical and The Walking Dead tells Radio Times the issue is the industry – not the audience

British actor Lennie James believes the situation for black actors “has got better, but it’s not good enough”.


In an interview in the new issue of Radio Times, the star of Line of Duty criticised an industry that has been slow to change. “The difficulty is you’re asking the wrong person. The people who need to be answering are the ones who make the decisions about why their cast doesn’t represent the people who are watching the programme,” he says. “A lot of the time, they will blame it on the audience – but the audience will watch, over and over again; I know from personal experience.” 

James previously worked with writer Jed Mercurio on the first series of Line of Duty. To prepare for his role as trauma surgeon Glen Boyle in Mercurio’s new medical drama Critical (Sky One), he shadowed a real life vascular surgeon. 

“There were moments when I would like to have seen whether or not I could do an operation,” he admits. “I’d be out in a social situation thinking, ‘Somebody do something where they need opening up. Just give me one go at it!’” 

Read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times, on sale today.


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