A series of short films inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement has been commissioned for ITV, to air next month.

The first interracial kiss in a British soap opera, ATV’s Emergency Ward 10.

“I’m proud to commission four new drama shorts from Greenacre Films which reflect what’s happening in Britain today.  The scripts are unique, fresh and engaging, about real people in completely real situations, confronting and exploring racism and prejudice. I hope in some small way each of these films will bring about change.” – ITV’s Head of Drama Polly Hill

Each of the drama shorts will screen powerful and impactful stories which illustrate the importance of black perspectives. It’s imperative we support and nurture black voices and ensure that they have a platform. Produced by Greenacre Films, with a remit to produce fresh and surprising stories with diverse voices, the dramas commence filming in London from 27th July. The dramas will be produced whilst adhering to the TV and film production guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of the cast and crew.

ITV since its earliest days has sought to bring a mix of talent to the screen, no matter what background, race or religion. In 1959 the network aired the first interracial kiss in ABC’s Armchair theatre, others followed in 1962 in Granada drama series Play of the Week and the first in soap opera came in 1964 in ATV’s Emergency Ward 10.

The channel also brought the best in talent to screens including The Nat King Cole Show, produced by ATV in London, in September 1960 with the same studios bringing viewers Sammy Davis Jnr Meets The Girls in November 1961. ITV gave a platform for artists of all backgrounds when showcasing acts on programmes such as Sunday Night at the London Palladium (1955-73), The Des O’Connor Show (1965-75) and Saturday Variety (1972). It was the seventies that soap opera on the network gained its first regular black family when ATV’s Crossroads introduced the Jameson clan from Jamaica. It was the seventies that also saw New Faces search for stars of the future with one huge audience hit from the show being Lenny Henry.

Sammy Davis Junior pulls in the viewers to ITV in 1961.

The new dramas for Black Lives Matter starts with Look At Me, written by Lynette Linton, produced by Carol Harding and directed by Frances Annan focuses upon the lives of young professional couple Nicola and Michael and the aftermath of them being stopped by the police while out driving on a date. We witness the fallout of this event, as we see the change in them from before the incident and the impact it has on them individually and as a couple.

Lavender, written by Nicole Lecky, produced by Jo Johnson and directed by Ethosheia Hylton when a new mother with light skin has a baby with darker skin, she is forced to confront and evaluate her relationship to her own white mother when her latent colourism shines through. When her mother cannot understand her experience of the world and how that impacts her new-born daughter, an immovable wedge appears between them. Can it be overcome?

Generational, written by Jerome Bucchan-Nelson, produced by Barbara Emile and directed by Alrick Riley explores the relationship a black father and daughter have with each other. When William catches his teen-age daughter, Justina, sneaking out, the usual scenes of antagonism between parent and child follow. However, it soon transpires that Justina is sneaking out to a Black Lives Matter march. What follows is an enlightening, but the bittersweet conversation for both father and daughter, as their views differ on what it means to fight for social justice. But as the conversation progresses and elements from the fathers past come to the fore their positions evolve and change and they find some common ground.

I Don’t Want To Talk About This, written by Anna Ssemuyaba, produced by Madonna Baptiste and directed by Koby Adom tells the story of a former couple who bump into each other a few years later at a mate’s party. They end up reassessing their relationship and the challenges they faced being a middle-class black woman and a working-class white bloke and the insidious and undeniable impact of racism on their love and friendship.

“We are delighted to be working with Polly and ITV together with such talented teams of writers, producers and directors. We relish the opportunity to cast a light on some of the things that go unsaid and bring the complexities and nuance of black experiences in the UK today to the screen.” – founders of Greenacre Films, Nadine Marsh-Edwards and Amanda Jenks.

The Crossroads cast of 1974, with UK soaps first regular black family The Jamesons.

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