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Britain's Got Diversity

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Mark Easton | 12:34 UK time, Monday, 1 June 2009

Not so long ago there was anxiety that ethnic minority acts were being discriminated against on TV talent shows. The suggestion was that "non-white" acts suffered from an undercurrent of prejudice and racism among the voting public.

Watching the final of ITV's Britain's Got Talent this weekend, I saw a stage for everything that is tolerant and inclusive about contemporary British society and identity.
The winners proclaimed multi-racial roots in their name.

The group called Diversity

Diversity's success spoke of something we should never forget about our country. While the press and our politicians too often demonise "gangs" of young men in their baseball caps and hoodies, this group from East London and Essex danced for the nation with discipline, wit, intelligence and joy.

The hard work and humility on display were at odds with the common portrayal of youth.

When the voting public was asked to select an act to represent Britain in front of the Queen, a million people chose Diversity.

Look at some of the other finalists: the 12-year-old singing sensation Shaheen Jafargholi may have an Iranian name and father, but the lad from Swansea is being hailed as the next Tom Jones.

Comedy dancers Stavros Flatley featured a man with "Cyprus" tattooed on his chest.

But the performance of Demetrios Demetriou and his son Lagi surely emanated from a very British school of clowning, an act built upon gentle self-mockery and plain daftness.

No-one suggested they were too Greek to represent Britain.

However, if you are a professional footballer, it appears that you can be too Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish to represent Britain.

The news this weekend that only English players will be available to play for the GB football team at the 2012 Olympics means brilliant young footballers from other parts of the UK will not get the chance to go for gold.

The decision was made by football associations worried that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland might lose the chance to win the World Cup on their own.

Britain's Got Talent, but when it comes to playing for team GB, only English footballers are allowed on stage.


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