British broadcaster ITV has dropped a regular Coronation Street director after he wrote a series of Facebook posts undermining concerns about systemic diversity problems in the UK television industry.
Steve Finn’s Facebook missives were spotted by HuffPost UK and were posted during the week of the Edinburgh TV Festival in August, when diversity was at the forefront of most virtual sessions at the industry talking shop.
Headlining the festival was historian David Olusoga, who delivered an excoriating assessment of race and racism in the UK television industry in a deeply personal MacTaggart Lecture. “I’ve been so crushed by my experiences, so isolated and disempowered by the culture that exists within our industry, that I have had to seek medical treatment for clinical depression,” the presenter said.
Finn took issue with Olusoga’s words, writing in a public Facebook post: “Oh poor dear, so crushed by his success on the unenlightened British media. Could I get just a tenth of his salary for making programmes which people actually watch, as he is so crushed?”
Olusoga also recalled an anecdote about seeing Black colleagues being served food after their white counterparts while filming on a reconstructed slave plantation in Jamaica. “Without informing me it had been decided that the actors and the crew were to eat first, the extras would get their lunch afterwards. Standard procedure perhaps, but the unintentional effect was that white people ate first and black people only after they had finished,” he said.
Finn commented: “Could someone please tell this idiot that the cast and crew were there earlier, worked harder and had to be back on set earlier than the extras, and would probably work longer and harder after lunch? But oh no he would rather see victims than any realistic practice.”
The director added: “People like Olusaga are victim-making frauds and need to be called out.”
Finn also took issue with remarks made by writer and actor Noel Clarke, who wanted diversity improved on a shoot he was working on. “I’m on a job now which I can’t mention and I came in on day one and I’m the lead actor I was like, ‘The crew’s not diverse enough, fix it, fix it,’” he said during the Edinburgh TV Festival.
Clarke later doubled down on the comments in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live — an interview that Finn posted a link to with the comment: “The sheer arrogance of this fucktard: “nobody was fired”, oh no they were just “let go”, as freelancers are, because budgets aren’t unlimited, and you can’t just hire extra crew, so yes you got some white people “let go” to assuage your own agenda.”
It’s not clear where Finn’s “let go” quote comes from. Clarke did not use this phrase during the clip, and in fact makes clear: “Nobody’s losing any jobs, nobody’s getting replaced or anything like that.”
An ITV spokeswoman said Finn, who directed Monday’s episode of Coronation Street, will no longer work on the flagship soap. “We have been made aware of comments on social media by a freelance director, Steve Finn, which are inconsistent with the values of both Coronation Street and ITV. The director will not therefore be returning to Coronation Street,” she said.
According to a Coronation Street fansite, Finn has directed more than 20 episodes over the past two years.