‘I’m an idiot’ says Cumberbatch


Published: Monday 26th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Benedict Cumberbatch tonight apologised after talking about “coloured actors” on US television, saying he had been “an idiot”.

The Sherlock star was criticised after using the phrase when he joined the debate on the lack of diversity on British screens.

He issued a statement tonight saying: “I’m devastated to have caused offence by using this outmoded terminology. I offer my sincere apologies. I make no excuse for my being an idiot and know the damage is done.”

He added: “I can only hope this incident will highlight the need for correct usage of terminology that is accurate and inoffensive. The most shaming aspect of this for me is that I was talking about racial inequality in the performing arts in the UK and the need for rapid improvements in our industry when I used the term.

“I feel the complete fool I am and while I am sorry to have offended people and to learn from my mistakes in such a public manner please be assured I have.

“I apologise again to anyone who I offended for this thoughtless use of inappropriate language about an issue which affects friends of mine and which I care about deeply.”

Cumberbatch said on US talk show Tavis Smiley, in comments reported by The Independent: “I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK, and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here (in the US) than in the UK and that’s something that needs to change.”

British anti-racism educational charity Show Racism the Red Card said the term “coloured” is now outdated and has the potential to cause offence.

It said in a statement: “Benedict Cumberbatch has highlighted a very important issue within the entertainment industry and within society.

“The lack of representation of people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds within certain industries in the UK is an issue which needs addressing, and we are pleased that Benedict has spoken out in support of more appropriate representation and of the views of actors and campaigners like Lenny Henry.

“In doing so, he has also inadvertently highlighted the issue of appropriate terminology and the evolution of language. Show Racism the Red Card feel that the term ‘coloured’ is now outdated and has the potential to cause offence due to the connotations associated with the term and its historical usage.

“Appropriate terminology differs from country to country; for example, we know that in some countries the term ‘coloured’ is still widely used, and that in the US the term ‘people of colour’ is quite common.

“During our work with young people in schools throughout England, we discuss appropriate language to use when describing people of different skin colours and backgrounds and explain why the term ‘coloured’ is no longer the best way to describe someone.”

ITV News broadcaster Charlene White drew attention on Twitter to Cumberbatch’s interview, posting: “Benedict Cumberbatch on lack of opps for black actors in UK. For me tho, undermined by him calling them ‘coloured’…”

Published: Monday 26th January 2015 by The News Editor

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