Lenny Henry's Race Through Comedy

Sitcom

Series 1 - Episode 1 Sitcom

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Review

Gold has found a great, underexplored topic for a clip show. Lenny Henry walks us through the ways TV sitcoms have covered black and Asian characters and culture since Johnny Speight and Spike Milligan got together for the ill-fated Curry and Chips in 1969, about an Irish-Pakistani factory worker who suffers abuse in the workplace.

The language and attitudes in the clips we see from that show and the brutally unsubtle Mind Your Language are a reminder that, as Michael Grade says, even if the writers meant to expose bigotry, they ended up encouraging it. Later shows from Desmond’s to Chewing Gum went on to put black characters centre stage and, crucially, behind the camera, too.

Summary

Series concentrating primarily on British comedy of colour over the past five decades, beginning with one of British television's great institutions - the sitcom. Starting with Love Thy Neighbour, the series looks at some of the well-meaning attempts television made to embrace the changing face of the nation during the 1970s and concludes with the influence that diversity and multiculturalism has had on society on comedy through shows such as Phoneshop, People Just Do Nothing and Chewing Gum.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Lenny Henry
Documentary