Channel 4 today announced AJ Odudu and Sir Trevor McDonald will present shows as part of Black to Front, the ground-breaking diversity project airing this September. Across the day Channel 4 will broadcast programming fronted by Black talent and featuring Black contributors, to champion Black voices and stories, and the incredible Black talent that make, shape and star in British TV.
Presenter AJ Odudu will join Bafta-winning Mo Gilligan as co-host of The Big Breakfast and newsreader Phil Gayle will return to read the news as this iconic show comes live from its original East London location, the Lock Keepers’ Cottages. A staple of the channel’s morning schedule from 1992 to 2002, The Big Breakfast defied the rules when it came to breakfast telly. Retaining plenty of its original anarchic spirit, risqué sense of humour and distinctive energy, the Black to Front special will see the presenters flanked by a mix of famous guests to kick start the day with a bang.
On Channel 4’s longest running show, Countdown, eminent journalist and broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald will host the iconic quiz show. Joining Sir Trevor in the Salford studio will be acclaimed poet and playwright Lemn Sissay OBE who will adjudicate the words from Dictionary Corner and maths prodigy Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE who will bring her arithmetical expertise to the numbers round. Lemn will be joined in Dictionary Corner by special guest, award-winning journalist & beer sommelier, Marverine Cole.
AJ Odudu said “I absolutely can’t wait to get stuck into The Big Breakfast. It is such an iconic show to be part of and I am buzzing it is finally coming back! I’m so looking forward to working with Mo and I can’t wait to wake up the nation! I’m thrilled to be part of Channel 4’s Black to Front – which quite rightly gives a platform to deserving Black British TV talent across our industry, both on and off-screen. It’s going to be really special. ’
Sir Trevor McDonald said “I am proud and delighted to be presenting Countdown on this special day; I have always enjoyed watching Countdown, a show that has been around for almost as long as I have! “
Kelly Webb-Lamb, Channel 4’s Deputy Director of Programmes said “From the voices that introduce the shows to the people appearing on screen, across social and All 4, the entire day will be fronted by Black talent and will tell the stories of Black British communities in a demonstration of Black excellence. Behind the camera Channel 4 is working together with our production partners to shape ambitious and meaningful off-screen commitments, making sure that Black to Front lives on beyond one day, accelerating careers and bringing about significant change that will leave a lasting legacy across the UK TV industry.
Planned over a year, and working with numerous production partners, Black to Front is part of Channel 4’s on-going commitment to improve Black representation on and off screen. From breakfast right through to late night, some of Channel 4’s most iconic shows will have Black talent at the forefront offering viewers a new perspective of much-loved programmes.
Channel 4 is an anti-racist organisation and has worked together with programme makers, production partners and the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity to identify and address the barriers for inclusion and progression for talent from underrepresented groups. Significant off-screen commitments were made to increase Black representation on Black to Front programming. Working together, Black to Front will accelerate significant and lasting change in the industry.
Black to Front was conceived by commissioning editors Vivienne Molokwu and Shaminder Nahal. It will be led by Deputy Director of Programmes, Kelly Webb-Lamb with Vivienne and Shaminder working across the whole day with Melissa Cousins as Project Coordinator. Head of Creative Diversity Babita Bahal and Director of Commissioning Operations, Emma Hardy are also part of the core team.