2 Jul 2020
5 Unique Shows That Capture The Black Experience in Britain
At the time of writing this we’re experiencing an easing of lockdown restrictions in the UK which though might be welcome news for those members of the population who can’t wait for things to go back to “normal”, we’re still in the midst of a pandemic. So it’s important to take our time with how we ease back into our social activities.
So what do I suggest? Obviously follow fact based guidelines but also try as much as possible to find fun at home. Immerse yourself in new and quality entertainment and try to challenge yourself to explore!
In the midst of the pandemic there has been a renewed focus on the Black Lives Matter movement where many networks have issued statements highlighting what they will do to improve diverse content.
It shouldn’t be seen as bold or daring to commission Black talent to create shows, it should just be standard procedure.
Unfortunately finding shows which capture the depth and breadth of the Black experience in the UK on mainstream TV can be a challenge, since many TV channels in this country still view commissioning shows with Black talent as a “risk” (there are so many reasons why this doesn’t make sense, but for now let me focus on the positives). When they are commissioned they aren’t always publicised as much as other “mainstream” shows so it’s important to use whatever spaces we have to amplify.
Here are 5 shows which either have Black central characters/leads or Black directors/writers with a predominantly Black cast, which explore different facets of the Black British experience in this country in dynamic and robust ways.
- ‘Dreaming Whilst Black’ is one of those hidden gems by a talented writer and production team that you know will one day make it to a wider audience, and if it doesn’t, we should still be grateful that it exists and that we had a chance to watch it. It is a 9-part comedy series that follows British Jamaican filmmaker, Kwabena (played by Adjani Salmon), as he tries to boldly achieve his dreams in the television and film making industry. The show explores the day-to-day struggles of being an independent Black creative trying to survive and thrive in the industry, whilst living in London and balancing his personal relationships with his goals. Everyday offers an insight into what it means to dream big, bold and beautiful dreams in a world that often doesn’t want to see Black creatives dream at all.
- ‘I May Destroy’ you is written and created by Michaela Coel and follows Arabella who cannot fully remember a night out with her friends and as the memories start to come back to her the truth about her sexual assault becomes clearer. It is intriguing, compelling, dumbfounding, bewildering, shocking, unique and utterly original. This show has depth, it has layers, it’s raw, it’s emotive, it takes the viewer on a journey and challenges our perceptions on sex and forces us to undertake a greater understanding of consent. It is wonderfully layered and is available to watch on BBCiPlayer, BBC One and HBO.
- ‘Enterprice’ is written by Kayode Ewumi and has been broadcast on BBC Three both on TV and online since 2018. It is a comedy about two young Black entrepreneurs, Kazim and Jeremiah from London, and their delivery service start-up. Aside from being utterly hilarious, it reflects the dreams and hopes of young Black men as they do what they can to not only accomplish great things, but to also leave a legacy. There are many moments when Kazim’s unabated ambitions uncover a tenderness and a reflection of the question, is it actually possible to give up on our dreams? This is definitely a must watch.
- ‘Meet The Adebanjos’ – If you’re looking for a nostalgic comedic viewing experience, Meet The Adebanjos is a family friendly comedy, produced and created by Debra Odutuyo and Andrew Osayemi, after they were rejected by mainstream TV networks. They broadcast the series on UK African diaspora networks like Vox Africa before eventually being picked up for global broadcast by Netflix. It follows the trials and tribulations of a British-Nigerian family living in London, and the intergenerational relationships that they navigate to live, love and laugh their way through everyday situations.
- ‘Life of Her’s’ is a drama series documenting the lives of four Black women in London. Written by Samantha Chioma and produced by Cardy Films. It only had one series on YouTube, but it is definitely a series worth exploring. It explores the friendships and relationships of these women as they try to maintain work life balance and their individual ambitions in the fast paced backdrop of London.
Written by: Ronke Lawal– Founder of Ariatu PR: MTA productions, production company (Meet The Adebanjo was a client). Ronke loves food, travel, TV and film and creative arts. She is a passionate advocate for enterprise and equality, and equity through diverse and inclusive leadership. She is regularly invited to facilitate training in personal branding, PR strategy and media training as well as an active public speaker.
Photo credit: Cast image of ‘Meet the Adebanjos’, courtesy of Netflix.