TV stereotypes: Thankyou. Come again.

In today’s Sydney Morning Herald, Tanveer Ahmed, better known as Mr “No Bingo” writes an interesting essay on multicultural roles in Australian television.

As a comedian, writer and psychiatry registrar, Ahmed admits the role he played on Seven’s now-tainted game show is a stereotype.

“The responses I have received from Indian-Australians are particularly interesting,” he writes. “They vary from disquiet and politely veiled criticism that I have helped send race relations back a decade, to beaming pride that there is an Indian face on prime-time Australian television.

“There are few faces from non-English-speaking backgrounds, nor are there many characters based on an ethnic heritage. This is particularly true for commercial television. When they are, it is usually a caricature or racial stereotype lacking any depth or complexity, much like the Bingo Commissioner.”

But Ahmed also has a dig at SBS where he served a cadet journalist.

“My impression was of a dedicated group of white, middle-aged people trying their best to create what they felt was multicultural television.” Ouch.

He notes representation on screen is improving.

“The ABC comedy The Librarians has a Muslim female character who is the polar opposite of every stereotype. Channel Seven’s Dancing With The Stars has included Anh Do, a comedian of Vietnamese heritage, in its line-up of celebrities. And one of the creators of the new SBS police drama East West 101 has said international networks are showing interest in the series because it contains the first fully formed Arab characters they have seen on Western TV.”


  1. If you look at the US version on youtube, they also include the same Indian stereotype as part of the format.

    I think it worked somewhat as even though I’ve only sampled the programme, the only person I can tell you about is him!

  2. I suspect many would argue his Bingo character actually has worked. He’s managed to make two words a much-mimicked catchphrase in just half a dozen episodes.

    The show already had a pert female, doing next to nothing else on the show.

    The problems with NBN are more base than Tanveer Ahmed, and yes no newspaper cards is one of them. Fairness is another.

  3. I would love to know why the producers of National Bingo Night thought a bizarre Indian Stereotype would work better than, say, a leggy blonde model? (like every other game show) They must have realised this wasn’t going to work.

    I’m certain Tanveer Ahmed’s cringeworthy performance is the major reason NBN has failed so miserably. (well him and stopping putting the game cards in the sunday papers)

    I like the idea of the show, but “nooooooooo bingo!” is too much for me. It makes me shudder and reach for the remote.

    Oh, a big thank you to Tanveer Ahmed – I’m so glad you felt the need to explain to everyone that the Bingo Commissioner is a stereotypical character. Us stupid white people (like the ones that run SBS apparently) would never have figured that out…

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