British TV and movie star David Harewood investigates the obstacles facing black Britons in rising to positions of power and influence.
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We've had 54 British prime ministers to date,
going back almost three centuries.
And all of those prime ministers have something in common.
They are all white.
I'm David Harewood, a British TV and film actor,
and I intend to find out why.
And to ask just how socially mobile is Britain today?
Could anyone, despite their background
or the colour of their skin, become leader of our country?
What if you were not born into privilege?
What if you were black, state educated,
and from a low-income household?
To work this out, we'll be carrying out
a comprehensive analysis of the data,
allowing us to make a unique probability calculation.
The odds from the start are stacked against them.
-Yeah, right from the start, literally.
'I'll find out just how difficult it would be
'for a black person to rise up through the British system,
'break into a top profession...'
It's a sea of white faces.
'..and, ultimately, make it to the country's very top job.'
What are the chances of Britain having a black prime minister?
Our journey to the very top of the British system starts,
as it did for me,
here in this Birmingham hospital.
Right, come on.
We've just had word that there's a brand-new arrival,
it's just inside this room,
so I'm going to go and speak to the new couple
and this brand-new child. Come on.
-Hello. How you? I'm David.
-Nice to meet you.
-What's your name?
-Abel. And you are?
-Who's this one?
Robel, look at him!
Abel and Janette are immigrants from Eritrea, east Africa,
who came to the UK three years ago.
What do you hope that he will achieve here in England?
What kind of job would you like him to do?
Or movie actor, I don't know.
Movie actor? Or Prime Minister, that's good ambitions.
He looks like he's going to be a movie star to me, actually.
Definitely. He's got that look.
BABY CRIES Do you mind if I pick him up?
Most parents believe that if your child works hard enough
and stays out of trouble,
they'll have a fair chance of success in this country.
Whether Robel here will have an equal chance
as his white counterparts to succeed in Britain
is really what this programme's all about.
Could he actually dare to be a prime minister of this country?
What do you think?
The place has changed so much since I've been here.
'I was brought up here in Birmingham
'in a place called Small Heath in the '70s.'
I sort of grew up in a bit of a bubble, I suppose, here.
I didn't really venture out very much.
Didn't really venture out very far, we didn't really have much money,
so it was a case of make your own fun,
make your own entertainment.
Here it is.
So this is really the house that I, kind of, grew up in, really.
I had two brothers and a sister.
We were very much a working-class family.
This was very much a working-class area.
My dad was a lorry driver and my mother worked as well.
I think my father came here in '58
and my mother, I think, came here in '62.
There were lots of adverts across the Caribbean
saying come to England, the streets are paved with gold.
The reason why most of the first-generation
West Indian migrants came here
was to get better lives, to improve their family, make some money,
get good jobs.
When the immigrants arrived, many found themselves positioned
on the bottom rung of the social ladder,
occupying mostly working-class jobs.
I was one of the lucky ones.
I got a break getting into drama school,
and then becoming a professional actor, now working in Hollywood.
But what are the prospects like for today's generation?
If a young black kid was born here today, and grew up here today,
what would his chances be of success in modern Britain?
To calculate what the chance actually are
of Britain having a black prime minister,
'we've asked statistician Dr Faiza Shaheen
'from the Centre for Labour and Social Studies
'to examine the data and come up with an estimate
'for the probability of exactly that happening.
'It's always difficult to predict the future,
'but she'll be feeding in data from a wide range of sources.
'She'll also be looking at the particular hurdles black people face
'if they want to make it to the top.'
OK, David, so let's start by looking at the economic circumstances
that black children are growing up in in Britain today.
The last survey of the mass population in the UK
was a census in 2011.
And that found that 40% of black people live in social housing.
That's one indicator of poverty.
More recent government statistics
have found that as many as 45% of all black children,
so African and black Caribbean, are growing up in poverty.
That compares to 25% of white children.
Nearly half of the black children in the country are growing up poor.
-The odds from the start are stacked against them.
-Right from the start, literally.
OK, so we know that black children are twice as likely
to be growing up poor than white children.
And on the flipside, white children are four times more likely
to live in wealthy households than black children.
And that disparity has huge consequences,
because we know wealthy children
overtake poorer children
in their development
very early on in life.
So by the time they start school,
the vocabulary of the poorest kids
lags more than a year behind
that of a wealthy child.
That's why poverty is the biggest determining factor in anyone's life.
Those children growing up in poor households
-are at a disadvantage from day one.
-Which obviously has a huge impact,
because it means they're starting education
-already a huge step behind their white counterparts, really.
Obviously, there are large numbers of poor white children, too,
who are just as disadvantaged, if not more so.
But for black kids, there are other significant factors
that can impact on their early development.
Not far from when I grew up, in nearby Edgbaston,
there's a nursery which specialises
in helping black children, in particular,
take their first few tentative steps in life.
-How are you doing?
Good, thank you, how are you?
-Very well, very well.
-Lovely. Nice to meet you.
-Thank you for having me.
-Welcome to Edgbaston Park Day Nursery.
'Liz Kerr is the nursery manager.'
We tend to make sure that we're catering for the specific needs
of the black African-Caribbean community.
A lot of the things that we do here
really go towards pushing expectation levels up.
A focus, really, on behaviour
and just getting the children really school ready
so the school readiness is a big thing here.
-(They're having story time.
I've got a visitor.
-Preschool, say hello to David.
Beautiful! These are the preschool.
Hold on, two seconds, I'm just speaking, OK?
I'll talk to you afterwards.
So they've had their dinner.
Because they're getting school ready, they don't sleep.
'Even at this tender age, Liz says that some of these black children
'have been singled out in mainstream nurseries
'and labelled as being problematic and that's why they've come to her.'
Describe some of the problems that black parents have had elsewhere
that bring them to your nursery.
We have four or five children
who have come from nurseries, mainstream nurseries,
where parents have told me that the demographic of the nursery
is predominantly white
and there have been labels around their particular children
and I think it's more a lack of understanding in the mainstream
about how to manage certain behaviours
if it's not something that they, perhaps, have seen before.
When I say behaviour,
really what I am talking about is just personality.
Put your toys down, please.
So, a child with lots of energy in a predominantly white setting
might just come across as a child that's problematic.
Problematic, naughty, disruptive. Doesn't want to engage in learning.
I'm aware that, you know, black children,
black boys, in particular, are very energetic.
It's important that we don't label those boys who are black
as problematic or as having behavioural issues
and we just look at them as children.
It's all right, don't cry.
Knowing that these are just boys who have got a lot of energy,
a lot of personality and we just engage with them appropriately.
Cos it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, in a sense.
If you are always told you are this way
and you're always told you are a problem and you're naughty,
you go through life just believing that that is who you are.
At a certain point, it's going to become where you're just like,
"You know what? I'm just going to be that person then."
Yeah, go have a look over that side.
There's been very little research
into possible labelling of black children at nurseries.
However, some parents who have children here believe it's an issue.
Tizai Shaw is a four-year-old boy who his mum says was treated
as being a problematic child by his previous nursery.
Rachel, what have been your experiences
in the mainstream predominantly white nurseries?
It was OK to start with.
No problems, great nursery.
I thought it was good, recommended it.
He got to about the age of two, he started biting, you know,
just pushing the boundaries.
Playing up, kicking, hitting.
And I used to say to them, "Can't you put him on a time-out,
"can't you just, you know, talk to him
"and just know that you can't do that?
No, thank you. Don't do that.
They were like, "We've got this new policy
"where we can't put him on a time-out.
And I was like, "But that's what I do at home."
So they'd phoned me, "Tizai's being naughty.
"Tizai's not being good.
"He's doing this, he's doing that."
Not anything else, it was always Tizai this, Tizai that,
Tizai... And it was just so awful for me it was so stressful
and I just used to cry cos I didn't know what else to do.
Rachel says that eventually Tizai was permanently excluded...
at just three years old.
Was his behaviour quite boisterous at home, too?
He's a boisterous child.
That's just the way he is. He plays with his dad all the time.
Him and his brother, they are boisterous children.
Wait, wait, Tizai, please.
But he wasn't behaving how he was at nursery at home
because, obviously, he has boundaries.
Nursery didn't give him those kind of boundaries.
Some people take it as he's being naughty, he's being out of hand,
but that's just him being playful.
Since he's been coming to Edgbaston Day Nursery,
Tizai's behaviour has been transformed.
Can I have a hug? Ohhhhh!
Have you been a good boy?
You know, I'm really inspired by what I've seen here today,
particularly talking to Liz.
The kids that come here seem to flourish in her school
and that's wonderful.
What worries me, though, when you think about it,
all the Tizais that are out there in Britain
not getting this tailored care, not getting this cultural understanding.
What kind of start in life are they getting?
They are being constantly told that they are bad,
constantly told that their behaviour is inappropriate,
constantly told they're a problem.
What kind of start in life are we giving those children?
If a black person is going to make it to become prime minister
it's quite likely they will have come
from a disadvantaged inner-city area like this -
South London's Elephant and Castle.
And that presents a challenge to schools like Globe Academy.
Morning, gentlemen. How are you doing?
Headmaster Matt Jones is working hard
to give his many black and ethnic minority pupils
a fighting chance.
He's just said something
and I've heard it from there. Go and sit down.
What are the particular problems
that face young black kids at this age at school?
Well, Ark Globe Academy is based in South London,
Elephant And Castle, which is, you know,
in the highest 20% for levels of deprivation.
So you've got your challenges there
and all the social and economic issues around that.
We are a very diverse community,
90% of our community is from black or minority ethnic groups,
of which 50%-ish are black Caribbean or black African.
I think some of the issues revolve around aspiration
and having real positive role models in their community
to aspire to and to be like.
I think the other issue is, obviously,
some low levels of attainment.
Dual is two, right, like two things coming together.
School attainment levels, or exam results,
are obviously a key factor in deciding young people's futures.
Brainstorming, mind mapping...
Let's take a look at how well black kids are doing
throughout their schooling.
Our statistician Faiza has been looking at pupil test results.
I've been looking at pupil assessment data
and breaking it down by ethnicity.
In this graph, you can see pupil assessment scores
for those aged seven to 16 years old.
White people start at this midpoint
and they maintain that level up to the age of 14.
Black African and black Caribbean students start at a lower point
and whilst black Africans maintain their scores,
black Caribbean performance declines steeply.
My word, look at that!
That's pretty stark, isn't it?
-I mean, that's an incredible decline.
-You can't argue with it.
But that's not the end of the story.
Between the ages of 14 and 16, black pupils start doing a lot better.
Both black Caribbean and black African pupils
see a massive increase in their scores. In fact,
by the time they come to do GCSEs,
black African pupils surpass white pupils at age 16.
I don't quite get... I can't quite get my head around that.
Why are they suddenly performing better?
What's going on there, then?
I think it's a puzzle, to be honest.
Research by Professor Simon Burgess from the University of Bristol
might provide an answer.
He has uncovered evidence of a shocking explanation
of the sharp rise in attainment levels
when black children get to their GCSEs.
He believes it is linked to the fact
that those exams are marked by independent examiners.
When we take GCSEs, of course,
they are exams that are marked outside of the school.
They are not marked by your teacher.
So that's your big chance to show how well you can really do
in a, kind of, anonymised context.
So we looked at some data comparing the test scores of pupils in England
against their teacher assessment.
For some ethnic groups, we found that the teachers
systematically underestimated their performance,
relative to how they did in these remotely marked tests.
So that suggests to us that some stereotyping is going on -
that teachers have a view,
form a view about the likely capabilities of students
from outside knowledge and that informs the expectations they have
of students in the classroom
and the stereotyped view might be that black students
are not very good in school, and so they tend to under-assess them
and have lower expectations for their attainment and their progress
than perhaps they should
and these stereotypes will interact with the child's motivation
and therefore they are going to try less hard at school.
If Professor Burgess is right,
then there's almost an in-built prejudice
against black kids within the system,
where they are being labelled and stereotyped negatively.
Here at Globe Academy, they are working hard
to break those stereotypes and to give their pupils
the tools necessary to succeed at university and in the workplace.
Perhaps Globe Academy might produce a prime minister one day.
So, you've got business class here.
-Let's go and have a look.
-Good morning, guys. How are we doing?
Does anybody recognise this guy?
This is, obviously, David Harewood, Hollywood actor
and he is working with the BBC,
doing a documentary on social mobility.
Miss, what are we doing today?
We are looking at interview practice
and how can we really prepare to go in confidently to these interviews
that they are going to carry out after school, to go into workplaces.
Would you like to have a go?
Love to. Am I interviewing or being interviewed?
-You can be the interviewer.
We'll swap the interview. Can we have Michael George, please?
-Can I be Mr Nasty?
-Yes, please do.
-Nice to meet you, sir.
-Hello, come in. Sit down.
'Where they are now is 90% black minority ethnic group.'
What we are preparing them for is an environment
that is totally different to that -
socially, culturally, and in terms of ethnicity.
Tell me about a time in which you were required
to produce something to a very, very high standard
and was there a fixed period to this time?
That's a very good question, first of all.
'If you're going to access these type of careers
'and these type of institutions, you have to perform in a certain way'
and be able to relate to others from a different ethnic group
and some people find that difficult.
Describe a time when effective time management skills
were key to success.
OK. So that's a very good question, once again.
-Thank you. LAUGHTER
I think that if I didn't put the time and effort...
'Some people don't accept
'that you have to adapt your behaviour based on context'
and that can be a challenge for young black students
growing up in south London.
Yeah, I thought you were very, very confident.
Be careful of the repetition of "That is a good question,"
because then it does become just a tad insincere.
-Thank you very much. Thank you.
You know, what's become clear to me today
is just how critical the school stage in life is
if children from black or mixed ethnicity backgrounds
are ever going to progress up the social ladder.
What this school is doing is giving these kids a springboard
onto, hopefully, brighter and better futures.
But if any one of these black kids
is going to make it to prime minister,
the chances are they'll need to go to a top university.
And, for that, they'll good A-level grades.
So, what are the chances of black pupils getting the required grades?
Faiza has been studying the A-level exam results data.
OK, David. To get into a top university,
you need to get three As or more at A level.
I'm already out of the equation.
I think I scraped two, I think. I can't remember.
The chances of a black pupil getting three As
-is just four in 100 or
The chances of a white pupil
getting three As at A level is...
Double the chance.
But, for those who went to private schools,
and, statistically speaking, they are mostly white,
the chance increases dramatically
to 28 in 100, or 28%.
-28% of those that go to private school will get three As or more
-at A level.
-That's just stunning.
I mean, that's...
Those people who can afford to send their kids to private school,
they are already a step ahead, anyway, aren't they?
I'm not, kind of, angry or bashing the system,
but these are just fact that speak for themselves.
The system is almost designed to assist those
who have an economic advantage.
In fact, David, if you're a state educated black boy,
you're more likely to be excluded from school than to get the three As
that you need to get into a top university.
And that speaks to... expectation, discrimination,
You are more likely to be excluded than get three As.
It's deeply troubling.
So this is a huge hurdle on that way to being prime minister.
This one knocks out a lot of black people.
-There's very few that will jump that hurdle.
You have to beat these huge odds.
So getting into a top university is critical for any black person
aiming to make it to make it to become prime minister.
And there's one university in particular
which outshines all the rest when it comes to producing PMs.
Every prime minister who has won an election since 1937,
if they went to university, it was Oxford,
including our previous and current prime ministers,
David Cameron and Theresa May.
Today, it's Oxford University's open day
and I'm meeting young hopeful Aisha,
a pupil from a South London state school.
-How are you?
-How are you?
-I'm fine, thank you.
-Nice to meet you, nice to meet you.
-Shall we go inside? Yeah.
Aisha has done really well in her school,
making it into their top 10%,
and she is predicted to get the three As necessary for entry here.
She has her heart set on studying at Oxford.
So of all the universities that you could apply to,
why do you particularly want to come to Oxford University?
As everyone knows, Oxford University is one of the best in the world.
If I can get the same grades as someone who goes to Eton or Harrow,
or even any other, sort of, private college,
then I should be able to then apply for that same university.
I feel like I deserve that right,
especially because it's not so common within, you know,
-the urban black...
Yeah. That's what drives me,
just wanting to sort of go against the odds
and actually help people like me,
sort of, break the mould and, you know,
just get up there in life as well.
Because there isn't any reason why intelligent young black people
shouldn't be able to go to one of the best universities in the world.
That's how I feel, anyway.
A couple of prime ministers up there.
Clement Attlee is just on the right and Wilson is on the left.
You know, I'm really impressed with Aisha.
What a mature, determined and purposeful young lady.
She knows exactly what she wants and how to get there.
We need more young people like her in more elite places like this
if we're ever going to break through the glass ceiling to success.
I really hope she gets offered a place.
Go on, girl!
-Have you got the university prospectus?
Aisha may be hopeful of getting a place at Oxford, but the truth is,
being black and state educated,
the odds are heavily stacked against her,
as Faiza has been finding out.
Fortunately, the University of Oxford
publishes their admissions data and breaks it down by ethnicity.
So I've been taking a look at that
and these are the figures, despite big outreach efforts
being made by the university to attract black students.
We'd expect to see about 4% of their students
being black or black mixed race
if it was to be representative of the broader population.
But, as you can see, they've been below the mark.
In 2009, they had a low of 1.5%
and in 2015, that rose to 2.5%.
That's still painfully below the representative target of 4%
and Oxford's not the worst.
Black students are under-represented in many UK universities.
Things are improving.
But as recently as 2012, Oxford and Cambridge universities
were found to be disproportionately selecting their students
from just three prestigious private schools
and two elite sixth form colleges.
Eton, Westminster, Saint Pauls,
Peter Symonds College
and Hills Road College in Cambridge
were getting as many pupils
into Oxford and Cambridge
as 1,800 state schools and colleges
in England combined.
Those top schools - Eton, Westminster, Saint Pauls -
these are amongst the most expensive private schools in the country.
Those are clearly fast tracks into Oxford and Cambridge University.
And then onwards into the more top jobs,
and, obviously, on to being prime minister.
And here's another troubling statistic.
When black and minority ethnic pupils apply to Oxford
or those top universities, they are less likely to get in
than their white counterparts, even when they have the same grades.
I'm just staggered by that.
I mean, again, that speaks to discrimination.
It speaks to prejudice.
A complete lack of understanding of the hurdles,
of the difficulties that that black child has overcome
-just to make it to that point.
I mean, you would think, given the odds they've faced
and the odds they've beaten, they'd be more likely to get in
-because they've shown...
-Tenacity, strength, all of that.
They've shown the desire,
a strength of personality to overcome all the hurdles
that have been thrown at them,
and then they're still not being given entrance
into that institution.
It makes me feel angry, because you think, you know, it's...
It's not that we are less intelligent,
it's not that we are less capable.
It's the fact that there is...
There is a layer,
there is a barrier which is that barrier of discrimination and bias.
Doctor Vikki Boliver from Durham University carried out the research
into Oxford and other top universities' admissions data.
She believes it reveals an inherent bias
within the universities' admissions process.
The disparity in offer rate
suggests that black students are being turned away
in greater numbers than white students,
even when they are very well qualified
to enter these universities.
I think that unconscious bias is likely to be playing a role here.
Unconscious bias describes the stereotypes
that exist in our society about different social groups,
different genders, different ethnic groups,
that admission selectors hold, that all of us hold
and have the potential to creep into decision-making.
It might be that admission tutors have in the back of their minds
negative stereotypes about black students.
It might be that they have unconscious thoughts
about whether somebody will fit in in the environment,
which, of course, Oxford University
is quite a white, socially elite environment.
These things might be at the back of people's minds
not consciously, but unconsciously.
The effects of unconscious bias are well known
and can also have an opposite, positive effect
on the chances for white, privately educated, middle-class students.
Part of unconscious bias is that we tend to gravitate towards
and unconsciously prefer people who are like us.
So it's quite possible that, to a degree, these admissions tutors
are recruiting in their own image
because they have very positive associations
with people who are like them.
It's still the case that the vast majority of the tutors
are white, middle- to upper middle-class British
and so the values that are celebrated there
and the cultures that are appreciated there
are relatively narrow.
And it's harder, I think, for those institutions
to value other cultures and other contributions.
But clearly they need to do that.
Oxford University's director of admissions declined our request
to be interviewed for this programme,
claiming that the issue of under-representation
of black and minority ethnic groups at the university
is an old and out of date story.
We tried again.
-We asked if
-representative from the university would come forward
to be interviewed to defend the university's record on this matter.
We were finally told, "We do not think the premise of your programme
"is strong enough to warrant an institutional response."
I think that pretty much speaks for itself.
-willing to be interviewed
'was president of Oxford University's
'African and Caribbean Society, Cameron Alexander.'
Where did you go up?
In Luton. I grew up in Luton,
in the estate called Tintown.
Is that a kind of working-class area?
Yeah. Very working-class, very working-class.
'Cameron is now in his third year at Oxford.
'He went to a state school in his hometown of Luton
'before winning a scholarship
'to a prestigious sixth form boarding school.
'He's become quite used to being one of the few black people
'in a white person's world.'
So, why do you think that black people
are under-represented here at Oxford?
I think it comes down to, like, a lot of structural factors.
I think if you look at the nature of the education
that the majority of the black people who might apply
or might want to apply are receiving,
it isn't necessarily as good
and is not necessarily as focused on Oxbridge.
I think if you look at what Oxbridge are looking for
in their students, there's a lot of things
that are more easily accessible within public schools.
They are looking for kids who have been to, like, talks,
kids who have engaged with magazines or The Economist
or different types of things.
Some things are expensive to engage with, you know.
If you've got an entirely kind of like monolithic, homogenous professor,
you know, then why would they know about the nature of inner-city London
or the nature of estates?
They wouldn't have known half the hurdles.
Exactly. They wouldn't have known the hurdles,
they might not necessarily be engaging
with what's hard about your path.
Maybe they are just not resonating with that
and I think those things do have an impact.
It's perhaps understandable
that a white, middle-class Oxford professor
might fail to fully understand the desires and anxieties
of inner-city working-class black kids.
But Cameron believes the problem is more fundamental than that.
It's not the most damning condemnation ever of Oxford
to say, "Oxford's a racist institution,"
or, "Oxford has a cultural preference
"which is against black people." It's the reality of the situation.
You know, it's a reality of the history.
Are you suggesting that Oxford is institutionally racist?
I think that's something we should really just, kind of, like,
just get with and accept and understand
and say it's something that they are working towards making better.
But I think, you know, Britain's institutionally racist.
Oxford's institutionally racist.
We should engage with it.
We should say, "Look, Oxford carries a bias."
Institutionally, it's harder for black people to be here.
That's a form of systematic racism.
It's an uncomfortable situation. It's an uncomfortable conversation,
but we need to embrace that uncomfortable conversation.
You know, I've been on a really incredible journey
with this programme and it's really struck me today
that if you were going to design a system
that disadvantaged black people at every level from nursery,
to schooling, to university and on up through the social system...
..you couldn't actually design it any better.
And there seems to be this begrudging reluctance
to acknowledge, dismantle and change that system.
Maybe there are certain groups that have a vested interest
in keeping it that way?
Oh, yeah, here we go. Great title sequences.
Air and naval forces of the United States
launched a series of strikes against terrorist facilities...
Oh, I love this. I love it.
Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous.
Oh, here we go.
(This guy's really good.)
Sergeant Brody called me.
You know, there's nothing I like more than staying in of an evening
and catching up on some of my favourite US drama shows.
Homeland - what a great show that was.
..when I first started working in America,
I became acutely aware of just how many great roles
there were for black actors in the US.
And I realised it was because, in American society,
black people do actually occupy powerful and influential roles
in a way that they just don't here in Britain.
It's pretty shameful, really, that we should be still so far behind
and that's not just true in the world of acting.
It's the same in many of the UK's top industries and professions.
If a black person is going to make it to prime minister,
the likelihood is they will need real word experience
in a top profession or industry.
So just how many black people are working
at the top of our key professions and institutions?
How about the judiciary, the people who implement the law?
Out of 161 High Court judges, Supreme Court judges,
Lords Justices of Appeal and heads of division,
how many of them are black?
How about those who lead our Armed Forces?
The people who protect us and under whom our troops serve.
Out of 133 generals, admirals, and marshalls,
how many of them are black?
And how about the media?
The people who feed us all the news and influence the way we think?
How many top national newspaper editors,
broadsheet or tabloid, are black?
You get the picture now, don't you?
Many people in modern politics
come from top jobs in the media or journalism.
So, I wonder how many black people are working in key positions
at our biggest public service broadcaster, for example?
Here in the heart of London,
where non-whites make up around 40% of the population.
As I'm working for them, I thought I'd make good use of my BBC pass
and take a look for myself.
This is the BBC newsroom, the hub,
the pumping heart of the BBC's rolling 24-hour news operation.
It is here where all of the key decisions are made
about the editorial and creative content
that we see on our BBC news programmes every day
and through whose eyes those stories are told.
Let's have a look and see
just how many black BBC faces there are busy at work down there.
Very, very, very white.
Mainly... Mainly white faces.
Very, very, very white.
It's a sea of white faces.
An ocean of white faces.
There's a black face just there.
There's another one.
Two black faces...
..in a room full of about 300 people.
It's hideously white, as the former director-general said
a number of years ago. Obviously, not much has changed.
Pat Younge is one of the few black people to have made it
to the highest echelons of the BBC
when he rose to be chief creative officer.
He's had a real insider's view
of the internal structures and hierarchy.
I've just been down to the BBC newsroom
and found it to be very white and very middle-class.
How has the BBC managed to remain
such a middle-class white institution?
I don't think it's ever been anything other
than a middle-class white institution, by and large.
I mean, people often recruit in their own image and that part of it.
I remember when I applied to join the BBC News scheme in 1989
and I got the literature and it said people criticise the BBC
and this scheme for being Oxbridge-biased,
but, last year, only half of the successful applicants
came from Oxford or Cambridge. And I thought, wow,
just half of the people in this senior stream
went to one or two universities!
You know, so what chance does a comprehensive school guy
from a regional university have?
So they are picking from a particular pool of people?
Absolutely. What's happened in the BBC's history
is one or two black or Asian people have moved forward,
and then one of them leaves,
and one of them decides to do something else
or gets made redundant, and, suddenly, there's none again.
I think the real challenge for the BBC and, in fact,
for all the media organisations,
is that they are largely staffed with middle-class graduates
who don't have much of an idea about working-class life,
never mind black life or Asian life.
The BBC announced its new diversity strategy earlier this year,
which aims to help black and ethnic minority staff
get to those top jobs.
It includes a new leadership development programme,
an assistant commissioner's training scheme and more interns.
Tunde Ogungbesan is the BBC's head of diversity
and he recognises the BBC still has some way to go.
We would like to have a more representative newsroom, yes.
I'm not going to look around and have a look,
but what I can say, again, is that this new strategy
that we've got in place is aimed at helping the BBC reflect
and represent the United Kingdom in its workforce.
That's what this new strategy is all about.
So, yes, there are things we haven't got to where we want to be yet,
that's why we've put a strategy in place.
We can do better and we will do better.
Almost every institution and influential profession you look at,
black men and women are under-represented
in positions of power and influence.
The media, law, the armed services and politics
are all top-heavy white, bottom-heavy black institutions.
That is a shocking reality of today's Britain.
We are almost there, nearly at the top job.
It's been a long and difficult journey,
but if a black person were going to make it
to the office of prime minister,
they'd have to get into this place first.
How diverse is that place?
How reflective is it of the wider public that it serves?
How representative are our representatives?
Let's look at our members of Parliament
and compare them to the country at large,
who they are in Parliament to represent.
White people make up 87%
of the wider population,
but white MPs make up 94% of Parliament.
Non-white people make up 13% of the wider population.
However, they only make up 6.3% of MPs in Parliament.
And while people of black African-Caribbean heritage
make up 4% of the wider population,
they only make up 2% of the MPs in Parliament.
Out of a total of 650 MPs,
just 13 are black or mixed-race black.
'I arranged to have lunch with one of those black MPs, Kate Osamor
'a working-class, state-educated black woman.
'Quite a number of minorities all wrapped up in one.'
-Do you like spicy food?
-I love spicy food.
-Well, you'll like this place.
-I'm looking forward to that.
-Wonderful. Thank you.
You've got to make sure you dip it in a bit of the...
Look at that!
'If someone like Kate can make it into Parliament,
'and into the Shadow Cabinet,
'then the chances of a black person one day
'making it to the very top job must be improving.'
What was it like for you arriving in Parliament,
being surrounded by these very white, very upper-class individuals?
Well, first and foremost, it's not the first time I've met posh people!
-I've met them before.
So I wasn't totally a fish out of water.
But, you know, in all seriousness,
there are loads of protocols that you have to adhere to,
you've got to learn, which I was never taught.
So I'm learning how to speak in a language that I don't normally use.
I'm learning to always get permission before I speak,
I don't come from that. I come from, just, you fight your way through.
If you've got something to say, just say it!
Quickly! And get out of the room.
But, no, in all seriousness, I think that's one of the biggest issues.
If you're not confident,
if you don't think someone wants to hear your voice,
then you're not going to ask.
You're going to sit back and you're going to be intimidated,
whereas I'm the opposite. I have a story and I want to speak.
I want to speak up for all of those people that I grew up with
that didn't have anyone speaking for them.
I have to push past the poshness, the upper-class...
Just forget that. They are like me.
They do the same things as I do.
What do you think the chances are
of Britain having a black prime minister?
It's possible. But we do need to have more MPs first
for that to happen.
So you need more of your critical mass
for you to be able to get through.
And at this point in time, that's not happened,
so we need more MPs that are coming from diverse communities first
before we can look at having a black, you know, prime minister.
You know, we have an incredible situation in Britain today
where it's entirely possible for our politicians,
who rely on policy advisers to advise,
and civil servants to devise policy,
and for journalists who report on them
all to have studied the same courses at the same universities
and, quite possibly, have been taught by the same tutors.
The British system is elitist and it has to change.
The question is,
how is that change going to happen?
I dipped my own toe into political waters last year
when I agreed to front a TV advert
'designed to encourage black people to vote.
'It didn't pull its punches.'
If you're black or Asian, and you're not registered to vote,
you're actually taking the colour out of Britain.
And, quite frankly...
..that looks ridiculous.
Now, I know you don't feel represented by politicians.
The thing is, if you're not registered,
-then they won't
It's the chicken and egg.
The advert was for campaign group Operation Black Vote.
It's led by former race equality and human rights commissioner Simon Woolley.
-Good to see you, man.
-You, too. How are you?
-Yeah, really good.
'Along with encouraging black people to use their vote,
'Operation Black Vote also does what it can
'to support black candidates and MPs,
'whatever their political party.'
We've been doing some work so it's a bit of a mess at the moment.
'Simon has been closely studying
'black politics in the UK for decades.
'He understands better than most the compromises
'black politicians need to make in order to get on.'
I have all these conversations because I need to,
with politicians from all political parties.
And one black MP, who will remain nameless, once said to me,
"Simon, when I joined the party,
"there was a real engagement to beat the blackness out of me..."
"..if I was to make progress..."
I said to him, "What do you mean by that?"
He said, "Look, we know you're black,
"but we don't want you to talk about it."
-Can you say which party it was?
So, for a black candidate, then...
-You have to play the game.
-You have to play the game.
But playing the game, you can't be too black...
-You can't be too black.
-Because if you are, it frightens the horses.
-You're not going to get that vote.
How ready and willing do you think the British public are
to elect a black prime minister?
I'm an eternal optimist.
And I do think, with the right character, the right individual,
an individual that's smart enough,
that the British public could readily vote
for a black prime minister.
And a black Prime Minister that says to the public,
"Look, our diversity is our strength.
"We embrace that."
I mean, I genuinely feel -
and I wouldn't have said this ten years ago, David -
that in our lifetime, within the next, I would say the next decade,
that we will see a black prime minister.
So, how important do you think it would therefore be
for this potential black prime minister
not just to win the black vote, but to win the majority white vote?
It's going to take a special individual
that is able to speak to the majority,
the white majority, if you like,
that you have their best interests at heart,
that you understand their challenges and concerns.
And you, as a minority prime minister,
are not going to favour your racial group,
that you're able to take everybody along.
It's critically important.
If they can take their constituencies along with them,
then they become the kind of rounded politician
that is able to resonate in all these different areas
that you need to do if you're going to be prime minister.
You cannot leave anyone behind.
So, our journey up through the British system,
through education, employment, politics
and, finally, to the office of prime minister
is almost at an end.
So what is the statistical likelihood
of a black person making it through the door of ten Downing St?
Faiza has developed her statistical model
which enables her to make a probability calculation.
OK, David, the calculation is complete.
The chances of a black child, born today,
making it up through the British system
and to number ten Downing Street
as Prime Minister is...
One in 17 million?!
That compares to one in 1.4 million for their white counterparts.
So a black person is 12 times less likely
to make it to number ten Downing Street
as Prime Minister than their white counterparts.
I'm kind of speechless about that, actually.
12 times less likely...
Wow! So, what were we saying earlier on
about having to work twice as hard?
Maybe it's having to work 12 times as hard.
I mean, of course, we know that people do beat the odds.
-But that is a huge odd to beat.
OK. One in 17 million.
You know what you've got to do!
But, David, that isn't the end of the story.
For those who are white and born into wealthy households,
who go to private school, get into the top universities,
onto the top jobs...
..their chances of becoming prime minister are...
Hugely smaller numbers.
In fact, they are 90 times more likely
to make it to prime minister than a black person.
Really fundamentally staggering numbers.
So what this has clearly demonstrated to me
is that the system is structured in such an elitist way
that it favours wealth, privilege over others,
particularly people of colour.
If you're a state school-educated black kid,
even if you cross all those hurdles that we've already talked about,
the system still, inherently, is going to disadvantage you.
-You would think that they have a more fundamental understanding
of the difficulties of life,
as opposed to somebody who's really been fed privilege all his life.
What does he really understand about life?
What does he really know about the struggles of life?
How is he then able to walk into Number Ten
and tell us how to live our lives?
It's quite staggering, really.
I refuse to be disheartened.
If there's one thing I've learned from my own life,
it's that black people can and will, despite the odds,
break through those barriers to success.
It's a struggle that starts from the day you were born
and would appear to remain throughout your life.
But the people I've met making this film
have given me real optimism
that, one day in the not too distant future,
-make it to the very top job.
If a black man or woman is ever going to make it here,
they are going to have to make the most extraordinary journey.
They will most likely have had to overcome the barriers of poverty
and the lack of social networks.
They will have to fight past the obstacles in our education system
and avoid the pitfalls.
The chances are they will have to face down discrimination
in the workplace and defeat political prejudice
in order to rise to the top.
Any black individual who can achieve this
will need to have a set of superhuman characteristics
and qualities and be the most multifaceted
and resilient of individuals.
And, of course, they'll need a healthy dose of luck.
Well, that could take a lifetime.
British TV and movie star David Harewood investigates the obstacles facing black Britons in rising to positions of power and influence, and calculates the statistical chances of someone from his own background ever becoming prime minister. In this personal film, Harewood tackles some of our biggest institutions, including top universities and the BBC, to find out why so many barriers remain to black people achieving their potential. Part of the Black and British season.