To improve Black representation on and off the screen and drive long-term change, Channel 4 has announced two new commissioning opportunities – a new Black-led comedy series and an unscripted series set in the Black community – that will feature in a Black Takeover of the channel next year.
With a ‘takeover’ day of programming from breakfast to late-night, Channel 4 will disrupt its regular schedule and reimagine some of its biggest mainstream shows. The ‘takeover day’ will mark a year after the international protests and debates sparked by George Floyd’s killing and celebrate the start of Black History Month in 2021.
The day will include a new original scripted comedy led by Black talent, leading to a brand-new sitcom commission. They are also looking for an ambitious unscripted prime-time series providing an authentic look at Black lives on the screen to launch on the day and a new one-off late-night live topical discussion show.
Channel 4’s whole schedule will go Black for a day to amplify the conversations around representation and diversity, starting with a one-off special, The Big Breakfast, fronted by Mo Gilligan, and followed by some of Channel 4’s biggest flagship shows hosted by Black talent, including Celebrity Gogglebox, Countdown and Channel 4 News, with an all-Black presenting and reporting team. Soap drama Hollyoaks will be an hour-long special entirely written, directed and performed by its Black talent.
To ensure that the Takeover project drives significant and sustainable change within the industry off-screen, Channel 4 has asked The Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity to help them shape ambitious and meaningful off-screen commitments to leave a lasting legacy and to ensure the broadcaster addresses specific problems in the industry.
The Black Takeover Day is scheduled for autumn 2021 – more details on the full line-up to be confirmed.
Ian Katz, Director of Programmes, said: “Channel 4 was created to give voice to underrepresented parts of society and do things that other broadcasters would not. The Black Takeover qualifies on both counts. It will be much more than a day of eye-catching programming, providing a focal point for our efforts to drive up on and off-screen representation and leaving a lasting legacy on the channel and beyond.”
Kelly Webb-Lamb, Deputy Director of Programmes and Head of Popular Factual, added: “Building on the content commissioned following the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, Channel 4’s commitment to improving Black representation will continue in 2021 and Viv and Shaminder’s ambition for a bold and truly memorable day on Channel 4 will ensure a lasting legacy, both on and off-screen. This project involves every slot, every genre, and every corner of the channel, and will therefore be the most radical and meaningful intervention into diversity in the channel’s history.”
Comedian Mo Gilligan said: “Like so many of us, I loved The Big Breakfast, and I am so grateful to be asked to host this special event, particularly as part of such a hugely thrilling and history-making day for British television!”
Marcus Ryder, Visiting Professor, Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity, said: “We are excited about the prospect of working with Channel 4 on this project. The role of the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity is to engage constructively with media stakeholders to help them create meaningful and long-term change.”
The project was conceived by commissioning editors Vivienne Molokwu and Shaminder Nahal. It will be led by Deputy Director of Programmes, Kelly Webb-Lamb, with Vivienne and Shaminder working across the whole day. Head of Creative Diversity Babita Bahal will oversee on and off-screen commitments alongside Head of Commissioning Management Emma Hardy.