A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Let's face it, Dreaming Whilst Black had very large shoes to fill after its standout pilot episode aired back in 2021 and managed to capture people's hearts oh so quickly.


It was the type of funny that had you in stitches, the kind of topical that made you pause, and so sweetly romantic that it left you kicking your feet while watching. That small snippet of Dreaming Whilst Black left us all wishing for more so it's safe to say that two years later, the excitement for this new series is real.

Of course, the natural questions of whether it will be as endearing as the pilot, as rich in cultural conversations and as seemingly effortless in its execution of humour are all things that could float through your mind.

But politely put all of those questions aside because once again, returning as the lead character and series creator is Adjani Salmon as well as a raft of behind-the-scenes talent (including A24 and Big Deal Films) that have ensured this comedy series won't be forgotten anytime soon.

We once again follow Kwabena (Salmon) as a hopeful filmmaker but this time round, he's pulling out more stops to ensure his film, Jamaica Road, gets made. He's living with his cousin Maurice (Demmy Ladipo) and heavily pregnant wife Funmi (Rachel Adedeji), but he's quit his recruitment job and is earning money through food delivery and ad-hoc video production.

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The awkward yet terribly sweet bus and wig meet-cute in the pilot has turned into a fully fledged relationship with Vanessa (babirye bukilwa) and together, the pair are as cute as ever. But now, Kwabena has to navigate what it means to be dating and treating your partner when you don't necessarily have the funds to do so.

Dreaming Whilst Black
Grace (Jo Martin) and Kwabena (Adjani Salmon) in Dreaming Whilst Black. BBC/Big Deal Films,Domizia Salusest

There's no one episode that is standout in this impressive slate of six that shine as bright as the next episode, only acting as a true testament to the writing and cast. But if there's one episode that conjures up giggles when thinking of it (at least for me), it's undoubtedly episode 3 when Kwabena meets a high-flying TV producer and also meets Vanessa's friends for dinner for the first time.

That scene alone is one that could be cut out and pasted into any woman's life, it feels so natural. The conversations about first date etiquette, wealth and career are all things many groups of girlfriends will have undoubtedly spent ages raking over. But it's Salmon's performance as the slowly shocked soup-eating partner that will leave you cackling.

Part of the inherent charm of Dreaming Whilst Black is the duality of what Kwabena wishes he could say and do versus the reality. It's something that we all deal with, the awkwardness that comes with saying something wrong in a conversation or wanting a do-over when it comes to a confrontation. But here, in this comedy series, Salmon takes that idea and uses it as an important comedic device, while also leaving you wondering just what is in Kwabena's imagination or if what you see is actually what happened.

The magic of the pilot episode was wrapped up in the fact that everything felt entirely effortless but the series benefits from the same feel too – comments are made so quickly you almost don't catch them, Black culture is explored in a way that feels authentic and nuanced, and those pivotal workplace moments are still explored in this series, but more so through the lens of Amy (Dani Moseley).

Dreaming Whilst Black
Amy (Dani Moseley) and Suzy (Lydia Rose Bewley) in Dreaming Whilst Black. BBC/Big Deal Films

With Kwabena now having quit his office job, we still see how workplace microaggressions and comments play a role in his day-to-day, especially in the TV and film industries. But in that confining office-based setting, we now have the opportunity to explore that through Amy. She's working for an advertising agency and balancing the desire to do well at her job with the disheartenment of being overlooked for her skills.

The only token of disappointment would be in wanting more of Amy's life to be explored but in the short run of six episodes we do have, it's clear to see she's an integral part of Kwabena's own career dreams while also forging a path of her own.

Even so, her workplace experiences are the stuff of well-executed humour. The jarring racial comments made by Kwabena and Amy's tone-deaf colleagues aren't made to be subtle or under-the-radar, they're purposely made to be so outlandish, you can only laugh at them and the reality that can often come with being one of the only people of colour in a majority white workplace.

Sure, there's a time and place to delve into the seriousness of that topic but in Dreaming Whilst Black, it's presented and dealt with in a delightfully amusing manner.

And that's just what the series does brilliantly – Dreaming Whilst Black manages to blend comedy and heavier topics in a way that other comedies can only learn from.

In the wider cast, we get to see more of Kwabena's own intergenerational family dynamic and how the cultural divides that can often be presented in multicultural households – here with Funmi's Nigerian and Maurice's Jamaican upbringings – can be dissected and laughed at.

The series offers more of a welcome insight into Kwabena's own everyday home life through new characters like Aunt Polly (Martina Laird), Uncle Claude (Roger Griffiths) and his mother Grace (Jo Martin). Even so, there's not a single character in this series that feels wasted or sidelined, each coming with quick wit that will smack you round the face and quips that only an elder family member could think of making.

There's something incredibly satisfying when a comedy series does just what it says on the tin and leaves you in hysterics.

But in Dreaming Whilst Black, the laughs are there and are balanced with prevalent conversations and everyday explorations about what it means to be Black in Britain. The only downside to finishing the series? The simple fact that there should be more episodes because the BBC have a comedy gem.

Dreaming Whilst Black airs on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer from Monday 24th July 2023 at 10pm. The series will also be available in full as a boxset on BBC iPlayer.

If you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide and Streaming Guide or visit our Drama hub for more news and features.


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