Monday 21 October 2019

Christopher Eccleston: Working class and black people not wanted in the arts now

The Salford-born actor said financial and political forces were driving them out.

Christopher Eccleston at the Up Next Gala held at the National Theatre (Ian West/PA)
Christopher Eccleston at the Up Next Gala held at the National Theatre (Ian West/PA)

By Alex Green, Press Association Entertainment Reporter

Christopher Eccleston has said that working class, black and brown people are not wanted in the arts anymore.

The Bafta-nominated actor said the theatre and television industry was at risk of becoming “metrocentric” at the cost of those living in less affluent parts of the UK.

Someone like me would not come through anymore

Speaking at the National Theatre’s Up Next Gala, Eccleston told the Press Association someone like him would not be able to find success in today’s climate.

He said: “We need to avoid being metrocentric. I’m very proud to be here tonight to raise some money, so we move out into the really important areas of Britain.

“Access to the arts is a particular issue at this time. I came through when it was easier.

“Someone like me would not come through anymore. Somebody like me would never have had a chance.”

Eccleston, 55, was born in Salford, Greater Manchester, and has been a vocal supporter of working class access to the arts.

For financial and political reasons, people like me are not wanted in the arts anymore

He has also been critical of the creative industry’s skew towards southern cities and middle-class actors and actresses.

He added: “The idea the National Theatre is putting forward is if we can perform in Salford, if we can perform in places all around Britain – Glasgow, Belfast, Liverpool, Newcastle – then somebody like me could do it.

“For financial and political reasons, people like me are not wanted in the arts anymore. If you come from a working class background, if you’re brown, if you are of colour, you are not wanted.

“Obviously, the National Theatre, standing on the South Bank in London, it’s the National Theatre’s job to change that. I’m here tonight to help make access to the arts more democratic.”

Eccleston – who played the ninth incarnation of the Doctor in the long-running series Doctor Who – has previously suggested he was not asked to audition for the BBC’s Hollow Crown series because of class prejudice.

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