Ofcom report: Scots portrayed on BBC shows as 'aggressive'

The Thick of It's Malcolm Tucker is the archetypal "aggressive Scot".
The Thick of It's Malcolm Tucker is the archetypal "aggressive Scot".
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Scottish characters in BBC programmes are often portrayed with an "aggressive" stereotype, an Ofcom report into the broadcaster's portrayal of society has warned.

The wide-ranging study, which looked at how different types of people are represented by the national broadcaster, found he BBC's portrayal of people from the UK’s nations can be felt to rely on stereotypes, with viewers citing examples of characters from Scotland who were aggressive. Welsh people also felt that they are ridiculed on BBC programmes.

The report said: "While the BBC is seen to compare well to others in representing and portraying the nations and regions, there is clear appetite to do more. In particular, people want to see representation of the UK outside of its major cities, and especially London."

It added that ‘box-ticking’ stands out to audiences, who react against it.

"Simply introducing wider representation is not enough to ensure authentic portrayal. People are wary of ‘tokenist’ attempts to make a programme appear more diverse and can find it patronising," Ofcom added.

Overall, however, the watchdog's report found that people feel that the BBC, and TV in general, is better at representing and portraying a wider mix of people than it used to be. A separate report also published today by Ofcom found the BBC is generally delivering its remit for audiences, but it must go further in areas such as transparency, taking creative risks and attracting young people.

Although viewers in Scotland watch 12 per cent more broadcast TV each day than the UK average, Scottish viewers' perception of the BBC was more negative than the UK average - with focus groups north of the border saying they wanted more content depicting life in the nation to be shown outside of BBC Scotland programming.

Glenn Preston, director for Scotland at Ofcom, said: "While viewers told us that the BBC – and TV in general – represents a wider mix of people than it used to, some people still feel less visible, or portrayed in ways that are narrow or not authentic."

A spokeswoman for the BBC said: "“We’re pleased this report recognises the progress we’ve made in better representing and portraying a wide mix of people, and finds that many people feel the BBC compares well to other broadcasters in representing and portraying the nations and regions of the UK. We know there’s more to do and as Ofcom recognises we’ve already taken action to achieve this, but this is a complex area and the report also shows that sometimes different people from the same background have contrasting views about the authenticity of our output.”