When growing up I use to love watching Desmond’s. It was hilariously laugh-out-loud funny. Friends of mine – who came from the Caribbean – also loved it. Set in a barber’s shop it had characters from real life, relatable if you were from an immigrant family.
The best thing I loved about it was that the writing was fresh, not full of cliches and truly funny. The same is true of Goodness Gracious Me.
It’s a shame that nothing like these shows exist on prime-time television today. So what has happened to all new Desmonds and Goodness Gracious Me(s)?? I’m sure that programmes like these – whether their stand-up, sit-coms, drama – have all come across the desk of commissioners, that the ideas are out there. There are exceptions, Citizen Khan, for instance, but there are very few exceptions. Is it a case of them just not getting commissioned? Or that there available on streaming channels only? Or is it a scheduling thing?
Are TV executives still following an old-fashioned way of thinking – i.e black comedy will not appeal to everyone and worry about their TV ratings?
Surely that argument was blown out of the water with the success of Black Panther. A Hollywood blockbuster with a virtual all-black cast that broke sales at the box office.
If this is how TV executives think, I would urge TV and also radio executives to not patronise their audience. Audiences are, I believe, much more sophisticated than they give them credit for. Generally they won’t care about the fact it’s a comedy full of black people, they will care about if its really funny. Funny enough to keep them glued to their set/screen/tablet for the next 30 minutes or so.
It’s important because it gives the average viewer a different view of a community. That this is a community that has a sense of pride, a set of values and perhaps most importantly, can laugh at themselves!
Television is not merely a tool of entertainment but also has a role to play in reflecting the full society of Britain, to help create bonds of social understanding and cohesion.