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  1. ITV Report

Idris Elba: You wouldn't know Britain is so diverse if you turned on the TV

Actor Idris Elba

Idris Elba has slammed the lack of multiculturalism in the TV industry saying "there is more diversity in Ford Dagenham".

The Luther actor, 43, said "the Britain I come from is the most successful, diverse, multicultural country on the earth", but you "wouldn't know it if you turned on the TV".

The star, who used to fit tyres and now makes films in Hollywood, told parliament the "difference between those two lives is opportunity".

The star, also known for his role in The Wire, called for "imagination" and "diversity of thought" in Britain's creative industries.

ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner reports:

The Britain I come from is the most successful, diverse, multicultural country on the earth.

But here's my point: you wouldn't know it if you turned on the TV. So many of our creative decision-makers share the same background.

– Idris Elba

He said he was helped on his way into working in theatre, and from there TV and film.

The actor said he got his first break in the creative industries from the Prince's Trust.

He said: "Yes, good old Prince Charles came in there.

"The Prince's Trust subsidised one of my first jobs with the National Music Youth Theatre. They gave me £1,500, because my parents didn't have enough money."

He added: "There were hardly any black kids, because none of us could afford it.

Idris Elba is well known for his roles in Luther and The Wire

And although back then I didn't get to meet Prince Charles, we had one thing in common. We both fell into the same line of work as our parents did.

It's true. My dad worked in a car factory, so before I could get any work as an actor, I ended up doing night shifts at Dagenham.

In fact, Ford Dagenham had more opportunity and diversity than the TV industry I was trying to break into.

– Elba
Luther star Idris Elba received an OBEin the 2016 New Year's Honours List. Credit: PA

Elba said: "I'm a product of my imagination.

"Made in Hackney. Made in Newham. Made in Dagenham. But above all, I was made in my mind: I'm seeing it, thinking it, doing it."