Brian True-May is not Racist, Midsomer Murders Promotes a Positive Image of Ethnic Minorities

This post was written by Salman Shaheen on March 21, 2011
Posted Under: Racism/Fascism,Satire,Television

Last week Brian True-May was suspended as producer of everyone’s favourite rural English take on Nightmare on Elm Street, Midsomer Murders, for some slightly non-pc comments.

“We just don’t have ethnic minorities involved,” True-May said. “Because it wouldn’t be the English village with them… We’re the last bastion of Englishness and I want to keep it that way.”

Unsurprisingly, True-May’s assumption that audiences are as racist as he came across in that Radio Times interview attracted some criticism, not least from a “shocked and appalled” ITV themselves and from Charlie Brooker, who is right about everything except this. Because I think True-May’s detractors are being a little unfair. Midsomer Murders is not the product of a twisted bigot. It’s the vision of a brilliant and stalwart anti-racist hero who refuses to bow to the stereotypes of white and black, rich and poor.

Setting aside that I am from both an ethnic minority background and from a bastion of Englishness about ten times as rural as Midsomer, and bracketing for the moment the programme’s literary vision of an England that never really existed, it’s worth noting the show’s deep commitment to social realism. The programme’s depiction of incest, for example. There’s quite clearly plenty of that in the countryside, even if there are no black or Asian people. And the lack of expletives. People are almost definitely very polite to one another while hacking each other up with garden saws over some homosexual blackmail. Black mail, of course, not black people. But why?

Well, the answer to the show’s lack of ethnic minority characters is not due to the racism of the producer. Quite the opposite. And it can be found in what is probably the programme’s most fundamentally realistic element. It’s alarmingly high per capita murder rate.

Now, there have been 81 episodes thus far, with an average of three murders per episode. Assuming each episode takes place over the course of a week, that gives us 156 murders per year. The fictional county of Midsomer has much in common with Somerset which, in 2008 had an estimated population of 912,900. Assuming that Midsomer’s population is in the same region, that gives us an annual per capita murder rate of 17:100,000. That makes it higher than Mexico, where 13 people per 100,000 are murdered each year, higher than Zimbabwe at 7 people, the US at 4, and way above the UK average of 1.4:100,000. In fact, only Columbia, South Africa, Jamaica, Venezuela and Russia have higher per capita murder rates than Midsomer.

For a sleepy, middle-class community in rural England, this is of course highly accurate and the producers should be praised for creating not only a bastion of Englishness, but a bastion of realism. And True-May, far from being vilified as a racist, should be praised for promoting such a positive image of ethnic minorities.

After all, there are no black gangstas shooting up the hood, no Asian suicide bombers, no katana wielding Samauri. It’s all white on white violence. Quite clearly, True-May made a conscious decision to leave ethnic minorities out of Midsomer because he didn’t want to stereotype them. He wanted to get to the heart of human darkness, not in skin colour, but in the soul, showing that you don’t have to be working class, black or from a broken home to commit acts of depravity. The killer is in all of us, even in this rich white county where grime is what you get when your spouse (who statistically speaking is either a murderer or soon to be murdered) misses a spot under the windowsill, and the closest thing to hip-hop is your mother’s impending hip-op, which will invariably be performed by a budding Harold Shipman wannabe.

It is, of course, a constant source of amazement and amusement as to why anyone would want to live in a place that is only mildly safer than Helmand Province. I certainly wouldn’t. And in that, we can clearly see that True-May, far from excluding ethnic minorities, is portraying them as inherently sensible, rational people who would not, given the choice, opt to live in such high crime areas.

As such, Brian True-May is possibly the last bastion of anti-racism on English television.

Either that or he’s an idiot and it’s a really shit TV programme.

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Reader Comments

Dee

As an African American who loves the Midsomer Murders, I must say that I was surprised to never see any diversity in any of the shows. However for this article, all I can say is “MALARKY!!”. The reasons given in this article for the lack of diversity is pure bull crap and makes no sense whatsoever. The author stated: “And True-May, far from being vilified as a racist, should be praised for promoting such a positive image of ethnic minorities.” This would only hold true if those were his actual reasons for lack of minorities being used, but since it has never been stated, this is an absurd statement. Is True-May racist? Probably so, but I still like the show.

#1 
Written By Dee on October 4th, 2011 @ 7:38 pm

Thanks for your comment Dee, but, erm, I wasn’t exactly being serious. I mean, who writes an article comparing the per capita murder ratio of Midsomer with Mexico intending it to be a serious piece of sociological anlysis? Malarky is exactly what this article was.

#2 
Written By Salman Shaheen on October 4th, 2011 @ 11:46 pm
Meaghan Greyson

Brian True-May shouldn’t have been suspended even for an hour.
Midsomer is a typical English village without “color”.
There is no need to have Asians, Africans etc….

I’m an American and understand the situation.
It would lose its flavour.

Please, it’s too much in America ,please not in England.

Other races appear when it’s necessary no meaning any discrimination

#3 
Written By Meaghan Greyson on October 14th, 2011 @ 3:07 pm
Rose

The reason I love Midsomer Murders is because it has authentic British actors, playing real British people. We have enough phoney people here in the USA trying to sound and act British, just look at that Madonna person. Jewish no less trying to convince people she is British. Stand up and defend your British roots. Everyone wants what you are. Don’t allow the show to become another Hollywood Jewish mishmosh.

#4 
Written By Rose on March 25th, 2012 @ 2:43 am

You didn’t want what we are, did you? Bloody splitters! God save King George.

#5 
Written By Salman Shaheen on March 26th, 2012 @ 9:53 am
ashfaq ismail

This is hilarious. I’m an Indian in South africa and I delight in Midsomer for the Sceneary which is my favouite character in the series and for the great joy I derive in seeing white people kill other white people for the silliest reasons (in the grand scheme of things) while maintaining the highest levels of politeness until they do so. Seriously, Brian Tru May is a Genius and not racist…

#6 
Written By ashfaq ismail on September 18th, 2012 @ 11:04 am

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