‘Strike’ Star Tom Burke Requested BBC Media Training To Prepare For J.K. Rowling Trans Questions

Tom Burke says he requested media training from the BBC to help him handle questions about J.K Rowling’s strident views on transgender rights.

Burke is currently on the publicity trail for Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, but he has recently filmed Season 6 of BBC/HBO series Strike, which Rowling pens under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

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The actor told The Independent that he asked for media training ahead of an interview with the publication, during which he was careful to remain neutral on the trans debate.

“I’ll preface all this by saying, what I want for that situation is for it to mend,” he said. “I want those disparate groups to find resolution. I don’t want to say anything in the wrong context, or at the wrong time, which is going to make the situation worse, because it’s not nice, right? There’s so much antipathy going on.”

He added: “I hate this term ‘culture war’ … Maybe it’s naive of me to say that, but I don’t want to be part of it. I want to bring people together.”

Burke said his “integrity sits fine” with starring in Strike, despite a well-documented backlash against Rowling’s views, including from Harry Potter stars including Daniel Radcliffe.

Burke said he did not wish to take sides in the debate, but said he felt sympathy for anyone who has faced “any kind of anger” for expressing their views.

“My integrity is to step away,” he said. “I’m aware that might mean people think I’m on the fence; it’s just what sits well with me right now. I’m not saying I’ll never speak out; it’s not that I don’t feel part of it. It’s just that I want to say something that’s helpful to resolution.”

Burke stars in Strike as Cormoran Strike, a war veteran turned private detective. Season 6 will adapt The Ink Black Heart, which has echoes of Rowling’s own experience of being caught up in the culture wars. It centers on the murder of a successful YouTube animator after she becomes the target of relentless online hate. At one point, Edie Ledwell is accused of being transphobic.

Rowling has been clear that the character is not based on her own life, but recognizes that she experienced similar online hate during and after writing the novel, published in August 2022.

Season 5, Strike: Troubled Blood, premiered in December 2022 with a strong 8M viewers for BBC1. It went on to average 6.9M over the course of its four-part series.

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