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Dotun Adebayo: 'Black folks who look silly on Crimewatch…

UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE: Dotun Adebayo will appear on the show presented by Jeremy Paxman (pictured)

HEY FOLKS, set your alarms for 8pm on Wednesday December 23 because that's the day when you'll be able to see how clever I am - or not, as the case may be.

Because on that day you will see me defending my alma mater on the acclaimed quiz show University Challenge. 

It's part of the graduate special that they've got for your festive entertainment during the Xmas period. And I must say that Jeremy Paxman seemed particularly delighted that I was rocking a rather colourful African dashiki.

But like every other black person that finds themselves in the hallowed environment of white folks, I was under more pressure than everybody else because I knew that I was representing not just myself, not just my family, not just my university, but the whole ah unoo!

That's always the case. Even though these days when you see a black person on TV you don’t holler up the stairs to your mum and dad and uncles and aunts and brothers and sisters that there is a phenomenon going on. And even though these days they don't rush down the stairs to have a butchers at said phenomenon. It's not so unusual to see black faces on the box anymore – especially on Crimewatch.


I know what you're thinking – “Dotun, why d'you have to bring up Crimewatch in relation to black people?" 

I know, I know, I wish I didn't have to. But the whole point of this conversation is about how we all bear the burden of our entire race when we go on television. On the one hand, there I am on University Challenge trying to rack my brain to remember how to do calculus so that it doesn't end up looking like black people are not as clever as their white counterparts. And on the other hand we have criminals in the black community trying their best to look good for the CCTV cameras in case they are featured on Crimewatch, one of the television programmes in Britain where black people feature heavily.

And it's not just black bank robbers and burglars who are going to the barbers for a high top fade before they commit crimes. You have your fraudsters and hustlers and general road rage thugs also fixing up and looking sharp with the latest styles and fashions from Ridley Road market in Hackney.

That's the problem with a lot of black villainy featured in Crimewatch. If black criminals spent as much time carrying out their dastardly deeds as they spent looking good for the cameras you might very well be impressed. Like the Hatton Garden safe deposit robbers who are mostly pensioners but devised a cunning plan to get away with the biggest jewellery heist in British history.

Even though they were caught on CCTV drilling through the apparently “impenetrable" walls of the vault, they are wearing hard hats and reflective vests to look as if they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. But the point is they planned that robbery so meticulously that they have gone down into folklore.

Mark my words, Chas and Dave will be writing ditties about them. In a hundred years from now they will be resurrected as modern day Robin Hoods and feted like the ‘loveable rogues' that the Great Train Robbers are today. Think of Ronnie Biggs, who the remnants of the Sex Pistols went to Brazil to record with back in the days when he was still on the run:
“Ronnie Biggs was doing time until he done a bunk...

Now he says he's seen the light and sold his soul to punk."

Wouldn't it be nice - just once - if we saw a black criminal mastermind who was able to be admired for his wit and cunning as well as hated for his criminal deeds? Wouldn't it be nice for the likes of Hollywood to pitch such a criminal mastermind up against the best of their superheroes – Batman, Superman, Catwoman. Instead, we have to hold our head in shame because what we see on Crimewatch are not the masterminds but the simple minds.

Most famously the guy who after trying to rob the bank and the alarm going off and shutters coming down to protect the staff thought he was trapped inside the bank and was trying to ram the glass exit doors with his shoulders and trying to kick it in with his feet when all he had to do was pull the handle towards him rather than push it. I don't know about you but that was the most shameful time that I remember seeing a black person on the box.

I knew that when I went to work the next day all my white colleagues would be asking me if I saw that idiot (they would studiously leave out the adjective ‘black') on Crimewatch last night. What a plonker they would add, looking to me for approval and expecting me to deny that not all black people are as stupid as that.


That is why it is so vital that we bring up the youngers to understand their responsibility to the whole of we when they leave the yard. Even if they are going to go off and become miscreants. They have a duty, not just to their family but to the whole of the race.

A point that is not lost on the exquisite Radio 1 deejay Clara Amfo who I bumped into recently at the Radio Academy Awards. Even when she  is ‘off-duty' she looks the part. Even when she is on air she looks the part (remember this is radio, she can come in without buffing up if she wants to, but she realises that she is representing). And the reason why I know she is aware of her social position vis a vis the rest of us is that she bothered to ask me (a senior in the radio game) for advice. It's as simple as that. If more of our yutes would listen to the advice of their olders we wouldn't look so ignorant on Crimewatch.

See if it's a crime watching me on University Challenge where I am team captain by the way two days before Christmas.

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