KRISHNENDU MAJUMDAR was elected to one of the most important jobs in the arts world in June last year – chairman of Bafta (British Academy of Film and Television Arts).
This organisation, set up in 1947 by a group that included David Lean and Laurence Olivier, hosts the Bafta awards, which attract some of the biggest stars from Hollywood and provides a pointer to likely winners at the Oscars.
Majumdar, at 46 its youngest chairman for 36 years and the first non-white person to hold the post in the entire 74-year history of Bafta, is determined to bring about much needed diversity during his three year term.
For example, he has warned British production companies that they won’t be eligible to win Bafta’s glittering prizes unless they can demonstrate diversity either in front or behind the camera. By diversity, he means race, of course.
But he also wants to include women, as well as people with disabilities and of all genders.
The areas over which Bafta has jurisdiction are films, television and gaming. The last is huge and becoming bigger.
Majumdar, who was born and brought up in Wales, says that when he was growing up and considering a career in the creative industries, he couldn’t look up to any role models –“no one looked like me”.
Films and television, he adds, are vitally important in shaping public perceptions.
“Movies are really inspirational,” he says.
“They’re mass entertainment. But they’re also an important art form. I would say that television has taken over probably as the most dominant cultural force. And in terms of long form storytelling, television drama has taken over from the novel even – I think Salman Rushdie said that as well.”
Perhaps he has the BBC’s adaptation of Vikram Seth’s six-part A Suitable Boy or the