British Film Institute revisits black actors with the Forgotten Black Drama On TV season

The British Film Institute’s (BFI) month-long Forgotten Black Drama On TV season starts this month at the Southbank, curated by author Stephen Bourne.

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 the country’s most prominent black British actors, including the late Norman Beaton and Balham-based 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.

A highlight will be Sammy Davis Jr in the first screening since 1961 of ITV drama The Day of the Fox – written for him to showcase his abilities as a straight actor.

There is also a discussion, after a screening of Channel 4’s 1985 drama Just Like Mohicans, when a black youth joins two white friends to burgle the home of a robust black woman.

A scene from Crown Court: The Ju-Ju Landlord

On the debate panel will be actors Susan Wokoma and Don Warrington – who features in several of the shows – Trix Worrell and screenwriting duo Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan and Marlon Smith, who penned Run.

Other titles screening 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.

There is 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.

The Museum Attendant, starring Norman Beaton

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 Warrington, who is no longer at ease with the cultured white family who have virtually adopted him.

Just like Mohicans starring, Gary Beadle and Mona Hammond

Bourne, from Camberwell, curated a similar season at the BFI for its 50th anniversary in 1983, when he hoped to redress the way the black British experience has been ignored and misrepresented.

  • Monday, February 4, 6.10pm – Just Like Mohicans screening and Q&A at NFT3, BFI Southbank. On-stage 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 Lez Cooke, producer Tara Prem, script editor Peter Ansorge 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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