Black History Month: Celebrating Black people in TV and radio
October marks Black History Month, during which people and organisations worldwide are taking time to reflect on our history while thinking about the steps we can take towards achieving a more equal society.
Ofcom’s research (PDF, 2.8 MB) shows that Black people remain significantly underrepresented in UK broadcasting – so it’s more important than ever to shine a light on the achievements and contributions of Black people across the industry.
We wanted to celebrate Black History Month by highlighting just a few of the incredible Black people who have done or are doing amazing things in UK TV and radio. Some have made history, while others are doing inspiring work that is making a real impact.
In 1981, Moira Stuart became the first Black woman seen on British TV working as a newsreader and presenter. She presented every type of BBC news bulletin during her five-decade career in TV and radio and presented programmes including The Big Spell for Sky 1, The Holiday Programme and Have I Got News For You on BBC One.
In March 2007, she presented the documentary In Search of Wilberforce for BBC Television, examining the role of anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the British bill that abolished the slave trade.
Barbara Blake Hannah
Barbara Blake Hannah became the first Black person to appear on UK TV in a non-entertainment role, after landing the job of on-camera reporter for the Today show on Thames TV in 1968.
During her career she interviewed notable figures including prime minister Harold Wilson and actor Michael Caine. Sadly she was dismissed from her role after just nine months, following complaints from viewers.
The British Journalism Awards now has a Barbara Blake Hannah Award for journalists from a non-white minority ethnic background.
Trevor McDonald joined ITN in 1973, rising through the ranks to become the sole presenter of News at Ten in 1992 and a well-known face on British TV screens. He went on to have his own show, Tonight with Trevor McDonald.
As well as news bulletins, Trevor presented numerous ITV documentaries on notorious criminal cases and Death Row. He was knighted in 1999 for his services to journalism.
It was recently announced that Trevor is to be the face of E4’s Gamesmaster reboot, as the format returns to screens after 25 years.
Floella Benjamin (now Baroness Floella Benjamin DBE) presented well-known BBC children’s programmes from 1976, including Play School, Fast Forward and Play Away.
She has also worked on numerous radio programmes, from children’s education and entertainment shows to adult drama. She hosted her own current affairs programme on Radio London’s ‘Black Londoners’ for several years.
Baroness Benjamin is a peer in the House of Lords, carries out significant work with children’s charities and has also been a member of Ofcom’s Content Board.
Ade Adepitan is a well-known TV presenter and wheelchair basketball player. After contracting polio at a young age he lost the function in his left leg, but went on to become a gold medal-winning Paralympian.
Ade was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for his services to disability sports in 2005. He was one of the main presenters covering the London 2012 Olympic Games.
His four-part journey around Africa, Africa with Ade Adepitan, saw him tell stories about how the continent is changing and was broadcast on the BBC in 2019.
Seyi Rhodes is a British television presenter and investigative journalist on programmes broadcast on BBC and Channel 4. He is known for his role presenting Channel 4’s Unreported World documentary series as well as Dispatches.
He has reported from countries all over the world, including gaining access to a notorious prison in Haiti. In the UK, he has investigated cheating in schools and challenging government ministers about their changes to benefits.
In 2009, Rhodes' Unreported World report, Sierra Leone: The Insanity of War, won a MIND Mental Health Media Award for best short documentary.
Trevor Nelson is a radio host, DJ and TV presenter, starting his career in broadcasting at Kiss FM in 1985.
He went on to present shows on BBC Radio One, BBC Radio Two and 1Extra and was awarded the special gold lifetime achievement award for services to broadcasting in 2010 at the Sony Radio Academy Awards.
He was awarded an MBE in 2002 for his contribution to the Millennium Volunteers programme, which engages young people in volunteering opportunities.
Last month Ofcom hosted an event to discuss the past, present and future of diversity in broadcasting and how the industry can become more inclusive.
You can watch the highlights from our recent All In event.
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