Black Britain

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

How have black Britons been portrayed in film and TV? From the infrequent appearances of black Edwardians in the films of Mitchell and Kenyon to documentaries such as The Negro Next Door (1965), Black Britain charts changing attitudes and hidden histories throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. Here are the trailblazers, the icons, the stereotypes, the controversies – indeed, the collection comes right up to date with the BBC’s provocative Shoot the Messenger (2006).

Working in collaboration with the 100 Black Screen Icons project, Black Britain highlights the work of actors 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.

New additions to the collection for Black History Month include the major documentary series Windrush (1998), rediscovered short Learie Constantine (1946) and the first episode of groundbreaking comedy sketch show The Real McCoy (1991).

Five to try

West Indies Calling (1944)

Caribbean servicemen and women gather at Broadcasting House for a special transmission home on their contribution to the war effort.

Learie Constantine (1946)

Rare footage of the Trinidadian-British cricketer who championed equal rights and was awarded the MBE.

64 Day Hero: A Boxer’s Tale (1985)

The astonishing life and tragic death of Randolph Turpin, Middleweight Champion of the World 1951.

Windrush (1998)

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

The Trouble with Black Men (2004)

David Matthews’ three-part polemic unpicking the preconceptions that surround African-Caribbean men in Britain today.

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