Richard Blackwood praises EastEnders for putting black actors at the forefront of the show

"This is 2016 and there’s no reason why the Hubbards shouldn’t be the equals of the Mitchells," said the actor

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Richard Blackwood has lauded BBC1 soap EastEnders for spotlighting black actors and characters.

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Speaking about his casting on the BBC1 soap, Blackwood said to RadioTimes.com: “Our executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins said that he wanted me to be a strong black lead on EastEnders. And that was why he made Vincent a nemesis for Phil. Vincent is the one person who’s not afraid of Phil and will go up against him.”

Since joining the show in February 2015, Blackwood’s screen family the Hubbards have consistently butted heads with the Mitchell clan – Vincent even going so far as to punch Phil to the floor within two months of arriving in Walford.

“It was the most uncomfortable scene I’d filmed up to that point because I had to punch Phil Mitchell,” commented Blackwood. “But thankfully Steve McFadden is a humble guy and a very giving actor.”

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Since that initial confrontation, Vincent has further made his mark on the neighbourhood by buying a prime property on the Square, where he now lives with wife Kim (Tameka Empson), mum Claudette (Ellen Thomas) and baby daughter Pearl.

Said Blackwood of the decision to manoeuvre his character close to the action: “Vincent, Kim and Pearl are the first black, middle-class family living on the Square that the show has ever had. They now live at number one Albert Square. That’s not been done on EastEnders before.

“This is 2016 and there’s no reason why the Hubbards shouldn’t be the equals of the Mitchells. That’s the core line. It was a big thing to carry on my shoulders.”

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Blackwood’s comments come mere months after Sir Lenny Henry said at a Big Think event that the TV industry had taken “baby steps” towards improving its track record on diversity.

When asked about Henry’s views, Blackwood – who has been nominated for a National Television Award for Best Newscomer – said, “I can’t comment on other shows, but I have a lot of respect for EastEnders for doing what they’ve done on a mainstream show on BBC1. And the feedback I get from within the urban community – regardless of their race – is that it’s about time.”

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You can watch a 60-second rundown of next week’s episodes of EastEnders below.

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