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Idris Elba: Still more to be done for diversity in TV roles

Published 16/11/2015

Idris Elba will reprise his role as Luther for a fourth series
Idris Elba will reprise his role as Luther for a fourth series

Luther star Idris Elba has said the UK is "moving in the right direction" when it comes to diversity in TV roles.

But the 43-year-old actor, whose big break came after he played drug lord Russell "Stringer" Bell in US series The Wire, added there is still more that can be done.

Elba - who, along with David Oyelowo, David Harewood, Lenny Henry and Meera Syal, has spoken out to ask UK networks to improve and increase their representation of ethnic minorities in the past - is one of the British stars who has managed to find work both in the UK and in the US, with roles in Hollywood films such as Thor, Prometheus, Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.

He said: "There is a lot of work to do but I think it's definitely moving in the right direction.

"People are aware of the issues that are faced. It's one of these problems that won't get fixed overnight but I think it's progressively getting better."

The actor added: "The BBC and Luther are very supportive of diversity, especially behind and in front of the camera. It's important to keep trying."

Elba, who also runs his own production company and is a DJ, will next reprise his role as Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) John Luther in the fourth series of BBC's dark crime thriller Luther.

The two-part special, written by the show's New Zealand creator and author Neil Cross, will air on BBC One in December. The new season comes more than two years after the third series, which aired in July 2013.

"We've got a loyal and demanding audience, and the audience, Neil and I were not satisfied with the ending of the last one. It felt like there were unanswered questions and we needed to conclude some stuff, maybe close down a chapter to open a new chapter and keep the story growing," Elba said.

"We've evolved, the whole show seems to have grown a bit. There's some progression in Luther's life. That version of Luther had to go and stop - and now this version of Luther, who is slightly older and a little bit more smarter and wiser, this begins the birth of the next chapter."

The Hackney-born star revealed he is still keen to make a movie version of Luther.

"In our heads, this was the film - it's two hours and it's a pilot for the film," he said.

"We would love to get a film off the ground but it takes time, and it's really about when Neil and I are ready to pull that off."

Asked why this series is only two episodes, Elba joked making more instalments would "be the end" of him.

The first series consisted of six episodes, with the following two seasons made up of four instalments each.

"I tend to do Luther when I'm most tired. I throw all my pent-up emotions and stuff into the character," he said.

"It would be tough to sustain that kind of angst without something giving. There is no reason why we could not do another six-parter - but it would be the end of me."

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