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BFI celebration black television dramas of the past

CELEBRATING BLACK CREATIVITY: Pioneering black actor Norman Beaton’s work will be covered by the BFI’s season of screenings

GROUND-BREAKING television dramas will be screened for the first time in decades as part of an initiative to celebrate black creativity on the small screen.

The British Film Institute’s month-long Forgotten Black Drama On TV season starts next month in London.

The season showcases the work of some of the most outstanding African and Caribbean writers of their generation, such as Barry Reckord and Desmond’s creator Trix Worrell, and features pioneering black British actors including Norman Beaton and Carmen Munroe.

The season will also focus on black British TV dramas from 1961-1985, many of which have not been screened since they were first aired decades ago. A highlight of the season will be the first screening since 1961 of The Day of the Fox (Drama ’61, ITV, 1961), which was written for the legendary American entertainer Sammy Davis Jr, in a rare dramatic role.

Another highlight will be an on-stage discussion with guests including actors Susan Wokoma and Don Warrington, Trix Worrell and screenwriting duo Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan and Marlon Smith (Run).

NEGLECTED

This will take place following a screening of Just Like Mohicans (Channel 4/Holmes Associates, 1985), the compelling story of a black youth thrown into a conflict of loyalties when he teams up with two white friends and breaks into the home of a feisty elderly black woman.

The BFI says this is an opportunity to rediscover neglected dramas from the past, appreciate their continuing relevance and participate in a debate about the current and future possibilities for black British drama in a rapidly changing digital landscape.
Other key titles screening in the season will include Club Havana (Second City Firsts, BBC, 1975) starring Don Warrington as a son who, after 12 years away, returns home to Birmingham from Jamaica.


PICTURED: Carmen Munroe

It will screen alongside You in Your Small Corner (Play of the Week, ITV, 1962) which Barry Reckord adapted for TV and in which his brother Lloyd plays the central character who begins a relationship with a white women, bringing him into conflict with his mother.

The screenings on February 11 will be introduced by season co-curator Lez Cooke, producer Tara Prem, script editor Peter Ansorge and actor Don Warrington. Other titles will include The Museum Attendant (Centre Play, BBC, 1973), a powerful, funny and shocking exposé of the racism faced by a black museum attendant, Mustapha Matura’s acerbic, offbeat dramatic monologue Nice (Channel 4/Central TV, 1984) starring the charismatic Norman Beaton, and Carbon Copy (ITV, 1975) about a Jamaican man, played by Don Warrington, who is no longer at ease with the cultured white family who have virtually adopted him.

Top picks for screenings

l Monday, February 4, 6.10pm – Just Like Mohicans screening and Q&A at NFT3, BFI Southbank. Onstage discussion features screenwriters Trix Worrell, Daniel Fajemisin- Duncan, Marlon Smith and Stephen Bourne, and actor Susan Wokoma (work permitting), chaired by broadcaster Brenda Emmanus.

Monday, February 11, 6pm – Club Havana and You in Your Small Corner screening at NFT2, BFI Southbank. Featuring an introduction by season co-curator Lez Cooke, producer Tara Prem, script editor Peter An- sorge and actor Don Warrington (work permitting).

Friday, February 15, 6pm – Screenings of The Museum Attendant, The Light of Experience and Crown Court: The Ju-Ju Landlord, at NFT3, BFI Southbank. Featuring an introduction by season co-curator Stephen Bourne.

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