Black Britain

100 years of black British stories, histories and representation on film and TV.

With Black Britain on Film launching on BFI Player, Mediatheque visitors around the UK can explore further with this landmark collection. From glimpses of black Edwardians in the films of Mitchell & Kenyon to boundary-pushing TV documentaries, Black Britain charts changing attitudes and hidden histories spanning more than a century. Mainstream feature films are available alongside the work of pioneering black British filmmakers such as Horace Ové and Menelik Shabazz; other major writers and directors represented include Michael Abbensetts, John Akomfrah, Malorie Blackman, Isaac Julien, Ngozi Onwurah and Alrick Riley.

Chiming with the major BFI season Black Star, the collection highlights the work of performers who have become some of the most distinctive voices in British film and TV, including Norman Beaton, Earl Cameron, Lenny Henry, Carmen Munroe, Sophie Okonedo, Rudolph Walker, Ashley Walters and Elisabeth Welch.

Ten to try

Miners Leaving Pendlebury Colliery (1901)

A young black miner is among the crowd leaving this Salford colliery.

A Man From the Sun (1956)

One of the earliest TV dramas to explore the lives of newly-arrived West Indians in Britain.

Sapphire (1959)

Earl Cameron appears in this crime drama which confronted mainstream cinema audiences with the problem of racism in post-war Britain.

The Negro Next Door (1965)

This Week invites the white residents of a Leeds suburb to express their views on their new black neighbours.

Black Christmas (1977)

Norman Beaton and Carmen Munroe star in Michael Abbensetts’ warts-and-all look at family life, a multi-layered snapshot of black Britain in 1977.

Empire Road (1978)

The opening episode of the landmark soap chronicling day-to-day life in Birmingham’s West Indian community.

Blood Ah Goh Run (1982)

Prescient documentary made in the aftermath of the New Cross Fire in January 1981, in which thirteen young black people were killed.

The Lenny Henry Show (1984)

The comedian spoofs Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ for his first TV showcase, a mix of stand up monologues, sketches and songs.

Windrush (1998)

Major four-part documentary series, marking the 50th anniversary of the start of mass post-war immigration from the Caribbean.

Elmina’s Kitchen (2004)

Televised version of Kwame Kwei-Armah’s National Theatre hit, a Hackney-set story of gun crime, racism and father-son strife.

  • Black Star

    Black Star

    Celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors.

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