London Live’s black talent invasion

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SILVER SCREEN: The cast of Brothers with No Game is heading to London Live

THE BRITISH answer to Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is just one of the shows that black audiences can expect when a new London TV channel launches later this month.

London Live will broadcast on March 31 and its commissioning executive Derren Lawford has vowed it will cater to the city’s diverse residents.

Lawford singled out a new multicultural sitcom The T-Boy Show, which he described as “a cross between Coming to America and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

It’s about a rich Nigerian boy who comes to live with aunt in London.

Starring Tolulope Ogunmefun of Don’t Jealous Me YouTube fame and award-winning sitcom Meet The Adebanjos, Lawford said it had all the makings of a hit show.

Lawford, who is responsible for new talent development in a strand called Raw, has also commissioned award-winning web series Brothers With No Game (BWNG) which focuses on the troubled love lives of four black British friends.


“We wanted to provide a platform for new talent that reflects the London experience and if it’s a great show with a diverse cast then we should look at it,” he said, also praising the show for its universal appeal.

Lawford added: “I met with the guys told them about the channel and what we could do to help to enhance it, not change it massively, but get it into a shape where we thought could make it into a really good TV series.”


Jay Marsh, one of the creators of BWNG, said he was “ecstatic” the show has been picked up and said it was a positive step towards breaking the glass ceiling and changing the television landscape.

THE BOSS: Derren Lawford

Having started in 2010 as a blog with up to 40,000 hits a month, BWNG grew into an eight-part online web show.

Marsh said: “I would love it if TV would go back to the days of Desmond’s, The Real McCoy or even The Richard Blackwood Show because they did have an impact on me. We wanted to push the boundaries to get on TV via the web.”

Samuell Benta, the creator of All About The McKenzies, another web show about the daily life of a British Caribbean family, had his brainchild commissioned for television before Lawford came on board.

He told The Voice: “I think great things can happen and more opportunities can come from this.

“[Black people] haven’t really had a voice…all we see is the stereotypical roles and a stereotypical reality and what we need is to administer new information, thoughts and ideas about us as black people.”


Simone Pennant, founder of The TV Collective which supports black creatives, said London Live was shaping up to be “a good thing” for diversity.

She said: “It would be ridiculous for them not to reflect diversity on London.

“The Evening Standard is sometimes criticised for its lack of diversity and how it tells stories, so it will be interesting to see how the TV channel differs.”

Lawford made clear that London Live would be editorially autonomous from the Evening Standard and urged views to judge it on its own merits. “Some things are going to work, and some things aren’t going to work, but that should not stop us from giving people the opportunity to shine.”

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