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Idris Elba: Coronavirus had a ‘traumatic’ impact on me mentally

Idris Elba (Ian West/PA)
Idris Elba (Ian West/PA)

Idris Elba has said coronavirus had a “traumatic” impact on him psychologically.

The star and his wife, Sabrina Dhowre, were among the first famous faces to say they had caught Covid-19.

Elba, 47, told Radio Times he is now “fully recovered” and feeling “lucky to be alive and thankful for being able to kick” the virus.

But the Luther star said the experience affected him mentally.

“I was asymptomatic so I didn’t get the major symptoms everyone else got,” he told the magazine.

But he added: “Mentally, it hit me very bad, because a lot was unknown about it.

“I felt very compelled to speak about it, just because it was such an unknown.

“So the mental impact of that on both myself and my wife was pretty traumatic.”

Elba added: “I needed the lockdown to try to get over it. And it turns out the world actually probably needed the lockdown, too.”

Elba was one of many stars who recently signed an open letter calling on the entertainment industry to invest more in black talent.

But he said he does not agree with censoring past productions.

Comedy show Little Britain, which came under fire because of the use of blackface make-up in some sketches, was recently dropped from Netflix, BBC iPlayer and BritBox.

“I’m very much a believer in freedom of speech,” Elba told Radio Times.

There should be a ratings system warning viewers that a film or show has outdated, insulting viewpoints, he said.

While not referring to a specific programme, Elba said: “To mock the truth, you have to know the truth. But to censor racist themes within a show, to pull it … I think viewers should know that people made shows like this.

“Commissioners and archive-holders pulling things they think are exceptionally tone-deaf at this time – fair enough and good for you.

“But I think, moving forward, people should know that freedom of speech is accepted, but the audience should know what they’re getting into.”

“I don’t believe in censorship,” Elba added. “I believe that we should be allowed to say what we want to say. Because, after all, we’re story-makers.”

The In The Long Run actor said boosting diversity needs a change in attitude.

“Money helps,” he said, but added: “It’s a shift in attitude, in perspective, in tolerance. And you can’t put an amount on that.”

– The full interview is in Radio Times magazine, out now.

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