BBC Silent Witness sparks 'one-way racism' row over character's use of 'whitey' slur

BBC Silent Witness sparks 'one-way racism' row over character's use of 'whitey' slur

WATCH HERE: Moment Silent Witness character calls white man a 'whitey'

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 30/01/2024

- 13:06

Updated: 30/01/2024

- 13:07

Several viewers were taken aback by the dialogue in Monday night's episode

Silent Witness has found itself at the centre of a "one-way racism" debate following Monday's instalment on BBC One.

Titled Invisible - Part One, series stalwart Nikki (Emilia Fox) was tasked with getting to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the mummified corpse of a woman after it was found after a year in an unoccupied flat.

The mystery spans across two parts with the second airing on Tuesday evening and has already introduced several new faces to the drama.

The mummified corpse is believed to be that of new character Paula Jackson, prompting the arrival of her sister Natasha Jackson (Sharlene Whyte), drug-dealing boyfriend Roy Lock (Lace Akpojaro), and concerned nephew Leo Jackson (Jude Cudjoe) to the fray.

Convicted drug dealer Roy is the character who sparked controversy after Monday's instalment of the current saga following an interaction he had with Leo.

Acting suspiciously, the scene in question showed Roy corner Leo under the facade he's looking to play basketball with other locals in the area.

Roy Lock (Lace Akpojaro), and Leo Jackson (Jude Cudjoe)

Silent Witness racism row: Roy Lock, played by Lace Akpojaro (left) and Leo Jackson, played by Jude Cudjoe (right)


Moments before, he'd spotted Leo speaking with concerned family friend Kev (Aaron Stephenson), which led Roy to tease the youngster about affiliating with a white person.

"Who's whitey?" Roy asked Leo, to which the teenager replied: "Kevin. He's my aunt's friend. He likes to think he's looking after me."

"White saviour?" Roy continued to mock, to which Leo chuckled and replied: "Yeah, whatever."

The moment cemented Roy as someone Leo should be wary of, but it also led to outrage from several BBC viewers watching at home.

Reacting to the dialogue in the script, one person fumed on X, formerly Twitter: "Did anyone hear the word 'whitey' used in #silentwitness tonight? @BBCOne I think this may be a problem. #bbc #racism."

Aaron Stephenson

BBC Silent Witness cast: Aaron Stephenson played Kev


A second similarly hit out: "@BBC #silentwitness #whitey #whitesaviour is that not deemed racist? I would personally not say the equivalent to a person of colour as I feel that would be racist towards them."

Meanwhile, a third fumed: "#silentwitness How flipping tiresome is the one-way racism on these woke programmes? Who’s Whitey... White saviour? His follow-up question! Can you imagine if a white bloke …"

The complaints kept coming as a fourth raged: "#Silentwitness did I just hear 'who's whitey' just now? Hang on a minute. If the scripts were flipped... on BBC television there'd be f***ing uproar."

And another turned off the show altogether: "#SilentWitness I actually have to stop watching, the dialogue is so f***ing awful. This can only be a BBC directive on accessibility or something. Speaking like robots. Why would someone think this is a good idea? So little to watch and now this!!"

There was some defence of the drama, however, including one viewer who argued: "Erm. It's a drama. The character saying it is a drug dealer and a pimp. Maybe he's not meant to be a nice person?"

BBC Silent Witness

BBC Silent Witness backlash: Viewers were outraged by the dialogue used


And the BBC has similarly defended the dialogue in the scene, with a spokesperson telling GB News: "Silent Witness is an established fictional drama series set in the modern world.

"The dialogue used was in keeping with this character who is not depicted in a sympathetic light."

The BBC show also stated in its synopsis of the new character that Roy Lock was "an antagonist who uses threats and intimidation".

The second part of Silent Witness's Invisible saga airs at 9pm on BBC One tonight.

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