Reeta Chakrabarti says she suffered racism at hands of BBC colleagues

Reeta Chakrabarti reveals why bulletin is broadcast in darkness

TV News presenter Reeta Chakrabarti has revealed she suffered racism at the hands of BBC colleagues as a young journalist.

Chakrabarti, who was born into an Indian Bengali family, said the BBC was striving to get a more diverse workforce into its newsrooms.

But it was a slow process, she said.

Asked if she’d experienced racism, the journalist, 58, who started off as a BBC radio producer before moving into TV in 1997, said: “Yes, I have. It’s never been anything systematic, but I’ve had one or two tart comments from colleagues who have suggested I’ve only got the job because of the colour of my skin.

“I just rolled my eyes.

“Maybe I’d get back at them more if it were to happen now, but it’s harder when you’re younger.

“I’ve always just tried to remind myself that it’s their problem not mine.

“It says more about them than it ever does about you.”

But she believes Asians are not represented enough on screen, saying it “might be something that feeds on itself”.

She added: “Newsrooms remain by and large quite monochrome – even behind the scenes – and if a workforce doesn’t look mixed then it doesn’t attract diverse people.

“It’s something the BBC has been trying to work on for quite some time, but it needs to happen much faster. “I’m a bit dismayed sometimes at the slowness of progress.”

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She also revealed that she still feels hurt from comments she received in primary school about race.

Speaking in the June edition of Good Housekeeping, she said: “I think Birmingham and Britain was a harsher place when it came to race then.

“At the time, the schools I went to were predominantly white and there was a lot of teasing.

“I hesitate to call it racism because kids just spout what their parents say. That has always stayed with me – the hurt the feel when you’re eight years old doesn’t go away.

“Fortunately, the country is very different now.”

The BBC has previously said that it is “committed to creating an inclusive workforce, by reflecting and representing the diversity of the UK”.

As part of its diversity plan it says it is “challenging ourselves to ensure that Diversity and Inclusion is hardwired into everything the BBC does”.

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