- Unapologetic and Crazy Rich… get commissioned in addition to The Big Breakfast
- Brand new Commissioning Guidelines and Manifesto launched to drive change behind the camera following Sir Lenny Henry Centre recommendations
- Channel 4 commits to ensuring at least 20% of its editorial decision-makers are from ethnically diverse backgrounds
Channel 4 has added Unapologetic and Crazy Rich… to its list of commissions which have come about as a direct result of its award-winning The Black to Front Project.
The ground-breaking day last September saw Channel 4’s entire programming schedule fronted by Black talent and contributors across all genres and advertisements, with the aim of amplifying Black voices in TV to reflect the diverse and vibrant culture of the UK.
Zeze Millz and Yinka Bokinni, pictured above left to right, will front a further six episodes of late night topical talk show Unapologetic (produced by SBTV and Cardiff Productions). It was previously recommissioned following its successful outing during The Black To Front Project.
In Crazy Rich… (w/t produced by Rumpus Media) Eddie Kadi (featured in Celebrity Gogglebox during The Black To Front Project) will act as a tour guide to show a famous comedian mate a side of Ghana that is seldom seen, and it’s a world of wealth, extravagance and exclusivity.
The broadcaster announced last month that The Big Breakfast (produced by Lifted Entertainment, part of ITV Studios) will get a summer run, reviving the award-winning partnership of hosts AJ Odudu and Mo Gilligan which was first seen as part The Black to Front Project special episode. In addition, The Defenders (w/t Spring Films) and Billionaires’ Paradise (Spun Gold) were also commissioned as part of The Black To Front Project.
Other on screen talent who were part of The Black to Front Project and who now have new Channel 4 commissions include Scarlette and Stuart Douglas (Worst House On The Street and George Clarke’s Flipping Fast) and Jean Johansson (Dream Life for Same Price pilot and Keys to a Fortune).Tayo Ogutonade continues to present BAFTA award-winning show The Great House Giveaway. Other shows and projects with Judi Love, AJ Odudu, Zeze Millz, Yinka Bokinni and Munya Chawawa are soon to be announced.
The Black To Front Project won the Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Innovation in Broadcasting.
New Commissioning Guidelines and new Manifesto 4 Change
To ensure that The Black To Front Project continues to drive meaningful change in the TV sector, Channel 4 has worked closely with the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity. The Centre have published a series of recommendations today which have contributed to Channel 4’s brand new Commissioning Guidelines, see here. As an extra statement of intent, Channel 4 has also published a Manifesto 4 Change.
The core principles of the new guidelines include a requirement for ethnically diverse senior leadership on all Channel 4 production teams as well as detailed targets for regional representation and production spend for ethnically diverse off screen talent to help ensure real impact across the spectrum of roles in production teams.
Channel 4 is already committed to ensuring that 20% of its commissioning department is ethnically diverse. That commitment has been further strengthened to state that at least 20% of Channel 4’s editorial decision-makers - Commissioning Editors and Commissioning Executives – as well as the most senior team members are from ethnically diverse backgrounds.
Ian Katz, Chief Content Officer, Channel 4 said: “The Black to Front Project was always about trying to create sustained change in the industry rather than just one day of striking content. We’ve already recommissioned several shows pitched as part of the project, made ambitious commitments to increased spend with ethnic minority-led companies and made genre by genre commitments to commissioning ethnic minority-fronted programming. Today we are doubling down on our pledge to drive change behind the camera with a new set of off-screen diversity targets for all our productions, and a commitment to do all we can to help our indie partners broaden their talent networks and open up our industry to all.
“We are very grateful to the Lenny Henry Centre for their recommendations on how we can achieve this, and will be announcing further plans for more production sector support in coming weeks.“
Ringfenced money for ethnically diverse-led indies
These measures follow the Channel’s recent pledges around commissioning and funding, to champion greater ethnic diversity both on and off screen.
Channel 4 was the first broadcaster to ringfence spend for ethnically diverse-led indies, pledging to triple content spend to £22 million by the end of 2023. The Channel has listened to industry feedback and will work with producers to ensure these targets are closely monitored to make sure they stay on track.
In March this year the broadcaster launched a multi-million-pound Diverse Indies Commissioning Fund with Motion Content Group. Blue Therapy 2 (w/t Project Gorilla/Luti Media) announced this month, is one of the first projects to come from this.
As a way of baking in commitment, Channel 4 has mandated every one of its genre teams to have at least one new show with ethnically diverse talent and/or stories at its heart every year, and every commissioning editor must also have at least one ethnically diverse-led indie on their development slates.
Grassroots support is another important route for Channel 4 to help create change, and the broadcaster is working with We Are Parable to support and mentor sixty up and coming Black filmmakers drawn from across the country.
More granular support for indies to help increase diversity will be announced by the broadcaster in coming weeks.
Marcus Ryder, Head of External Consultancies at the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity and Visiting Professor at Birmingham City University, said, “We are encouraged by the fact that Channel 4’s Black to Front project has proved to be bigger than just one day as the broadcaster has clearly taken the lessons that it learnt from the process and are implementing policies that should make it a more diverse and inclusive broadcaster, and hopefully improve diversity throughout the industry.”
For more details contact
Susan Mackean, Communications Manager, Channel 4