The Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci has argued for more "colourblind" casting in TV and film, saying more diversity on-screen "makes what we make better".


Speaking at this year's Edinburgh International TV Festival, Iannucci also addressed those who'd labelled the BBC's Doctor Who as "woke" following its cast of first a woman – Jodie Whittaker – and more recently a Black man – Ncuti Gatwa – in the lead role.

Iannucci was speaking at the MacTaggart Legacy panel which saw the BAFTA-winning writer appear alongside writer/producer Jack Thorne, British historian and broadcaster David Olusoga OBE, and Channel 4's former Head of News and Current Affairs Dorothy Byrne, with all four revisiting the MacTaggart lectures they'd each delivered at previous editions of the Edinburgh TV Festival.

"In all of our respective lectures, we were really talking about... British television is great, we want it to be even better, and it can only be better if it's much more reflective of who we are, as a country and as an audience," said Iannucci.

He continued: "I'm always very wary of the word 'minority', because it sounds like we're trying to be niche – we're not, we're trying to be expansive, we're trying to be more honest about what we are as a country."

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Iannucci referenced one of his own projects, 2019 film The Personal History of David Copperfield (which starred Dev Patel as the title character) as an example of how "colourblind" casting can leave a filmmaker feeling "liberated".

"I decided to go for colourblind casting, which is just something that's been in the theatre for years. It was an enormous relief. I felt liberated, I didn't feel I was ticking boxes. I just felt, 'my God, why have I not had access to 100 per cent of the acting community [previously]?"

"It's a really enjoyable step forward, it's not difficult. It makes what we make better."

Iannucci went on to dismiss criticisms that the practice is "woke", singling out Doctor Who as an example of diverse casting. "My worry is that there is now this word 'woke' that the government has weaponised to try and stop all that," he said.

"I want someone to ask [Conservative MP and Prime Ministerial candidate] Liz Truss, 'Do you want Doctor Who just to be a white man?' – I've got to see what her response is, because that's the thing that's referred to as 'woke', the Doctor Who debate."

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