The BBC today announced “Black And British,” a season of programming celebrating the achievements of black people in the UK and exploring the rich culture and history of black Britain.
Running throughout November 2016 and led by programming on BBC Two and Four, with other content across BBC television, radio and online, the “Black And British” season will feature bold, vibrant and provocative stories, overturning preconceptions and challenging orthodoxies. The season will also cast a fresh light on our history, examining the contribution and impact of black people in the UK, as well as interrogating just what it means to be black and British today.
In addition, a major digital campaign, “Black British Hero,” will run across the BBC’s social media accounts this fall, with celebrities, high-profile talent and major institutions nominating their black heroes via short films and images and encouraging the audience to do the same. There will be other digital content including a guide to researching black history.
Headlining the season is David Olusoga’s four-part series for BBC Two, “Black And British: A Forgotten History.” The series is a fresh approach to British history and demonstrates the enormous contribution black people have made to shaping our world. In the four films, specially commissioned BBC Black History Plaques are unveiled at locations across Britain and the Commonwealth. The plaques record and celebrate people and events that are pivotal to this new history and will be enduring icons of the series.
Other content on BBC Two includes “Black Is The New Black,” which features some of the most influential and talented black Britons facing the camera and describing what it is like to be black and British today.
“Back In Time For Brixton” follows a family as they are whisked through the decades in south London, from Windrush in 1948 to today.
Adrian Chiles explores an extraordinary football match which took place in 1979 at West Bromwich Albion, and the impact black footballers have had not just on sport, but attitudes in the country in “Whites Vs Blacks.”
Presented by David Harewood, “Will Britain Ever Have A Black Prime Minister?” offers a hard-hitting statistical analysis of getting to the top professions; also “Life And Death The Pentecostal Way” is an observational documentary featuring a Brixton Pentecostal church and its community.
BBC Two’s Saturday night Arts season this fall also features a series of films which complement the BFI Black Star season, including the network premiere of “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom” as well as “Glory”; “Boyz n The Hood”; and “Red Tails.”
Black Star is the BFI’s biggest ever season of film and television dedicated to celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors. The season runs from October to December 2016 and features BBC programs including “Black And British: A Forgotten History” and “Black Is The New Black.”
BBC Four’s “Roots Reggae Rebellion,” presented by rapper and poet Akala, examines the history and impact of Reggae music in Jamaica and Britain, while “Young, Gifted And Classical: The Making Of A Maestro” tells the story of the extraordinary musical family of Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of BBC Young Musician 2016.
Also on BBC Four, “Black Midwives” focuses on the women who responded to the call of the ‘mother country’ at the founding of the NHS.
BBC Three, with its long standing commitment to developing diverse new talent, showcases three new faces for the channel: comedian Dane Baptiste stars in his own new take on the sitcom, “Sunny D”; British rapper and MC Big Narstie tackles debates that are happening right now on social networks in “Let’s Settle This”; and in “The Story of Grime,” Radio 1Xtra DJ A Dot explores this young, millennial, unapologetically authentic music scene.
In addition, BBC One will be supporting the season with “Songs of Praise’s Gospel Choir Of The Year” and “Songs Of Praise Black And British” special, and BBC News will be supporting the season across all platforms.
The “Black And British” season has been produced in collaboration with a range of partners: the Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic England, The National Archives, Black Cultural Archives and the BFI. All are participating in the BBC’s Black British Hero social media campaign as well as running their own complementary campaigns. The partners are also organizing public events, activities and programs inspired or supported by the season and its content, which hope to encourage people across the country to get involved in their own research and leave a lasting legacy.
David Olusoga, presenter and historian, says: “I’m very proud to be a part of this landmark BBC season and hope my series, Black And British: A Forgotten History, will provide audiences with a very different, challenging and enlightening view of black British history, a history that I feel is very much part of all of us.”
Patrick Holland, BBC Two Channel Editor, says: “This is a hugely important season of programmes that not only celebrates the enormous contribution that black people have made to the shaping of modern Britain, but also raises challenging questions about how we tell our shared history and what meritocracy means today.
“As the place to come for strong opinions and authorship, I’m delighted that BBC Two is at the heart of the season with a wide range of stimulating and ambitious programming featuring a brilliant array of talent; from David Olusoga telling a forgotten history of Britain from the perspective of black inhabitants and David Harewood exploring the challenges a black child would face in reaching our country’s top job, to hearing from some of the most influential and best-loved people in the UK telling us what it is like to be black and British today. The season is a challenging, questioning and vibrant celebration of our shared history.”
Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Specialist Factual, says: “The BBC’s Black And British season goes way beyond our rich, varied and provocative television titles on BBC Two and BBC Four. On television, I’m delighted that BBC Three is launching a brand new comedy as part of the season; our radio offer goes across our stations, taking in lively debates and music and our digital content includes short form, interactive content and ways to explore black British history and culture in huge depth. Our partnerships take the season out into Britain, with screenings, events and activities. Along with the Black History Plaques, these partnerships will provide a lasting legacy and the means for everyone in the UK to get involved. The season would have been impossible without the talent, commitment and passion of all the filmmakers, presenters, partners and producers who have spent the past 18 months putting it together.”
Highlights of the programming will be curated on the season webpage www.bbc.co.uk/blackandbritish.
BBC has released a first trailer for the “Black And British” season which is embedded below: