News

Crush of the week: Lenny Henry

Lenny Henry feels as familiar to me as a family friend – the magnanimous uncle who has always been there’

There are some people who live forever bathed in the golden glow of collective folk memory: Floella Benjamin (with her dulcet tones), Tom Baker (with his scarf), Andi Peters (and all his cheerful enthusiasm). Add to that list Lenny Henry, who feels as familiar to me as a family friend – the magnanimous uncle who has always been there.

Now 57, Sir Lenny (he was knighted this year) has had a hell of a career. Much of it is so well-worn: how he got his big break, how he appeared on The Black And White Minstrel Show (which he now regrets), his role in co-founding Comic Relief, and so on. I’ve absorbed those details as though by osmosis. But I find myself most interested in his current incarnation: the one who blew
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Stars write to all major broadcasters calling for more ethnic diversity

A variety of stars across TV, theatre and film have written to all major UK broadcasters calling for increased ethnic diversity on British TV and behind the camera.

Signatories on the letter, published in The Guardian today, include Lenny Henry, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Richard Curtis, Russell T Davies, Idris Elba, Neil Gaiman, David Harewood, Harry Hill, Terry Jones, Asif Kapadia, Doreen Lawrence, Jimmy McGovern, Phyllida Lloyd, Bill Nighy, Lynda La Plante, Alan Sugar, Meera Syal and Emma Thompson, among others.

Read the letter to The Guardian in full

The recipients of the letter were BBC director general Tony Hall, ITV chief executive Adam Crozier, Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham, BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch and Philippe Dauman, chief executive of new Channel 5 owner Viacom.

"We are dismayed at the poor numbers of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) people both on our screens and working behind the camera," the letter reads.
See full article at Digital Spy - TV news »

Lenny Henry criticises BBC's diversity plans: 'It doesn't work'

Lenny Henry has criticised the BBC's new plans to increase on-screen diversity.

The comedian said that the black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) community had "initiative fatigue".

Last week, Lord Tony Hall announced plans to increase on-screen diversity by 5% in the next three years.

"Tony Hall's announcement last week is something, but with massive respect, it's on an old model that doesn't work," Henry said of the new initiative.

Henry spoke at a culture, media and sport select committee hearing, saying there had been "29 initiatives at the BBC in the last 15 years and numbers (of people from Bame backgrounds working in the industry) have gone down".

He added: "Idris Elba and Chiwetel Ejiofor didn't need more training. They just needed a break."

The actor will be part of a new BBC action group, including Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Asian Network presenter Nihal and Lady Floella Benjamin.

Henry said that
See full article at Digital Spy - TV news »

BBC's Tony Hall announces new diversity strategy: "We need to do more"

The BBC has announced a new strategy to improve the representation of ethnic minorities at the corporation.

Director general Tony Hall unveiled the proposals at the set of EastEnders in Elstree on Friday (June 20).

The plans include a new executive development scheme and a commissioning fund, while more training internships for black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) graduate trainees will be introduced.

Lenny Henry - an outspoken critic of organisations including the BBC over Bame diversity - will be among a panel of experts on a new independent action group to advise the corporation.

Paralympic gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, broadcaster Baroness Floella Benjamin and footballer Jason Roberts will also be on the panel.

"The BBC gets much right on diversity, but the simple fact is that we need to do more. I am not content for the BBC to be merely good or above average," Hall said.

"I want
See full article at Digital Spy - TV news »

Prince Charles backs Nfts diversity drive

  • ScreenDaily
Letter from the Prince of Wales read at Ntfs Gala event.

Prince Charles has praised the work of the National Film and Television School (Nfts) in their ongoing campaign to improve levels of diversity in the industry.

Baroness Floella Benjamin took to the stage at the Nfts’s annual gala event, held at Old Billingsgate in London, to read the letter of support from the Prince of Wales.

It said: “I am delighted at the long standing commitment the Nfts has made to training of the highest standard. I am very conscious of the generous help that is provided to ensure that the courses you offer are available to those of the greatest potential talent whatever their means.

“Any successful industry is only as good as the people within it and its future success depends on the quality of those whom it attracts to join the profession now.

“So I could not be more pleased at the
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Lenny Henry to introduce Nfts Gala

  • ScreenDaily
Lenny Henry to introduce Nfts Gala
Annual event to be held on June 18 on the topic of Great British Film, Television and Games Event - Striving for Diversity Nirvana.

Lenny Henry is to introduce this year’s National Film and Television School’s (Nfts) Gala.

The Great British Film, Television and Games Event - Striving for Diversity Nirvana will take place on June 18 at Old Billingsgate.

Baroness Floella Benjamin, OBE, is chairing the Gala committee, which includes Paralympic medalist Ade Adepitan, director Alrick Riley, Fujitsu UK and Ireland chairman Simon Blagden, MBE, Ingenious Investments CEO James Clayton, Wall to Wall TV founder Alex Graham, Coutts & Co’s media banking division director Judith Chan, Global Group executive president and founder Ashley Tabor and Nfts director Nik Powell.

Henry recently launched a nationwide campaign to increase diversity on our screens by calling for a change in the law to boost the number of Black and Minority Ethnic workers in British broadcast media.

The Gala aims
See full article at ScreenDaily »

BBC Play School's reunion guests hoping Hamble's there for pie | Media Monkey

Get ready to play the BBC's much-loved series Play School is having a 50th anniversary reunion. Monkey hears 60 out of the 104 Play School presenters (yes, there really were that many) are due to attend the event on 3 May, including Brian Cant, Derek Griffiths, Johnny Ball and, hopefully Emma Thompson's mother Phyllida Law. But no Floella Benjamin, alas, as she is on holiday. The reunion at Riverside Studios, which was home to early episodes of the show, will feature a 45-minute compilation of all the best bits of Play School, presented by current CBeebies host Chris Jarvis. Monkey wonders if the potted history will feature the footage of Rick Jones and Lionel Morton filming a nativity scene during the 1970s in which Ball said they were "stoned on the biggest joint you've ever seen." Also paying tribute to the influence Play School has had on children's television will be Cbeebies
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Play School celebrates 50th anniversary, announces exhibition

Iconic children's programme Play School celebrates its 50th anniversary today (April 21).

The show launched on April 21, 1964 and is noted for being the first programme to air on BBC Two.

Play School ran for 24 years until 1988 and was fronted by presenters including Brian Cant, Carol Chell, Johnny Ball, Derek Griffiths and Floella Benjamin.

The programme celebrated landmarks such as becoming the first children's programme broadcast in colour on BBC Two in 1968, and became the first children's show in the UK to feature a black host when Paul Danquah joined the team in 1965.

To mark half a century since the show's launch, Play School will be part of a special exhibition commemorating Children's BBC called 'Here's One We Made Earlier', which is due to open in July at The Lowry in Manchester.

The Children's Media Foundation are also supporting a special reunion of people who worked on the show.

Former head of
See full article at Digital Spy - TV news »

Lenny Henry urges broadcasters to employ more black and Asian people

Comedian says urgent action is needed to reverse fall in number of minority ethnic people in creative industries

Lenny Henry has urged broadcasters to take immediate action to reverse the fall in the number of black and Asian people in the creative industries in a set of proposals dubbed the "Henry plan".

The actor and comedian called on broadcasters to ringfence money to increase the number of black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) people both on screen and behind the scenes at a diversity summit for the UK creative industries chaired by the culture minister Ed Vaizey on Wednesday.

He said "structural change" was required and called on the industry to echo the regional diversity model adopted by the BBC to increase TV production outside of London.

Vaizey indicated that the government would look to make broadcasters more accountable over the number of black and Asian people they employed, admitting
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Screen partners on Nfts 2014 Gala

Baroness Floella Benjamin [pictured] will chair the event, which is about improving diversity.

Screen International and its sister publication Broadcast have been confirmed as media partners for the National Film and Television School’s 2014 Gala.

Baroness Floella Benjamin is to chair Gala, which aims to improve diversity in the film, television and games industries.

The Nfts 2014 Gala will be held at Old Billingsgate on June 18, 2014 and includes live entertainment, a quiz and live and silent auctions.

Joining Benjamin on the Gala Committee are Simon Blagden (Chairman, Fujitsu, UK and Ireland); James Clayton (CEO, Ingenious Investments); Alex Graham (founder of Wall to Wall TV); Judith Chan (Director, Media Banking Division, Coutts & Co); Ashley Tabor (Executive President and Founder, Global Group); Alrick Riley (Nfts graduate, BAFTA-winning director of Hustle, Hotel Babylon and Spooks), Ade Adepitan, (Paralympic gold medalist and television broadcaster) and Nik Powell (Director Nfts).

Benjamin, who is also on the school’s Board of Governors, encouraged the industry
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Floella Benjamin: My family values

The TV presenter, actor and OBE talks about her family

I was born in Trinidad, the second of six children. The first eight years of my childhood were perfect. My dad (Dardie) opened our minds to the world. He worked as a policeman and was a philosopher, bookworm and politician who stood up for justice and human rights. He made sure we saw beyond the shores of Trinidad. My mum (Marmie) gave us inner strength and confidence.

My father was also a musician and I gave my first performance with him when I was 15 months old. While he was playing his saxophone, I got up on stage and said to all the people, "You're not dancing right – this is how you dance."

When I was eight, things started to go wrong when my father wanted to go to England to play jazz. My parents argued. My mother didn't want to leave us children.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

2011 Rhs Chelsea Flower Show Pictures

Gwyneth Paltrow attends 2011 Rhs Chelsea flower show.Photo copyright Landmark / PR Photos. Kirsty Allsopp attends 2011 Rhs Chelsea flower show.Photo copyright Landmark / PR Photos. Gloria Hunniford and Diana Moran attend 2011 Rhs Chelsea flower show.Photo copyright Landmark / PR Photos. Neil Fox attends 2011 Rhs Chelsea flower show.Photo copyright Landmark / PR Photos. Will Young attends 2011 Rhs Chelsea flower show.Photo copyright Landmark / PR Photos. 05/23/2011 - Floella Benjamin - 2011 Rhs Chelsea Flower Show - VIP Day - Royal Hospital Chelsea - London, UK © Landmark / PR Photos 05/23/2011 - Will Young - 2011 Rhs Chelsea Flower Show - VIP Day - Royal Hospital Chelsea - London, UK ©
See full article at Monsters and Critics »

Make children's television gentler, plead Play School's former presenters

Young viewers brought up on noisy, anarchic programming are missing the calm pace and face-to-face interaction of old-fashioned shows, say four of Play School's best-loved personalities

When Toni Arthur, the former 1960s folk singer, went up to the Edinburgh Festival one summer to direct a comedy show on the fringe, a large stranger ran up to her and declared the strength of his feelings. "I just love you, you know," he said, choking with emotion. The man was the comedian Phill Jupitus, and for Arthur it was far from an isolated incident.

Throughout her career, many of those who used to watch her during her long stint as a presenter on the BBC children's programme Play School have adopted the same attitude. And it is not just nostalgia, according to Arthur. She suspects it is because all the presenters on the show were trained to look straight into the camera,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

This week: Tony Blair, Diandra Douglas and Floella Benjamin

Lucy Mangan on the people hitting the headlines in the past seven days

Taking liberties

Tony Blair

Turns out the attorney general warned him that going to war with Iraq would be illegal. Several times. But really – what do lawyers know? He lived with one, he was one – he knows what they're like. Anyway, things change. Not facts or anything but ... things. And eventually Lord Goldsmith came round to his way of thinking – sort of – and popped a more helpful note through the door of No 10 suggesting that what Mr B wanted and had just promised George W would be Ok after all.

And that was surely right. Why else would our Tone have received this week the 2010 Liberty Award (lovely medal, plus 70 grand to stick in the account) in the Us for "significantly furthering the expansion of freedom, self-governance, equality and peaceful coexistence" in the world. Really, it's enough to move you to tears,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

This week: Tony Blair, Diandra Douglas and Floella Benjamin

Lucy Mangan on the people hitting the headlines in the past seven days

Taking liberties

Tony Blair

Turns out the attorney general warned him that going to war with Iraq would be illegal. Several times. But really – what do lawyers know? He lived with one, he was one – he knows what they're like. Anyway, things change. Not facts or anything but ... things. And eventually Lord Goldsmith came round to his way of thinking – sort of – and popped a more helpful note through the door of No 10 suggesting that what Mr B wanted and had just promised George W would be Ok after all.

And that was surely right. Why else would our Tone have received this week the 2010 Liberty Award (lovely medal, plus 70 grand to stick in the account) in the Us for "significantly furthering the expansion of freedom, self-governance, equality and peaceful coexistence" in the world. Really, it's enough to move you to tears,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Floella Benjamin ascends to the Lords – but who should be next?

Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham could open the floodgates for scores of favourite TV faces to be clad in ermine

Floella Benjamin has ditched her Polo mint earrings and ascended to the House of Lords this week, in recognition of her campaigning charity work. She becomes Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham, which appropriately sounds like a character from a kids' TV show. Oh look, here comes Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham on her blue bicycle!

It's obvious why she's been honoured now, after all these years. The people in government are in their late 30s and 40s and therefore the right age to reminisce about the reassuring personalities from their childhoods. Floella could open the floodgates for scores of old TV faces to be clad in ermine and propped up among the decaying reactionaries already gathering dust there.

You can just see Cameron and Clegg sat in front of a laptop, looking up
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Glastonbury 2010: Grace Dent's liveblog from the sofa – Sunday

Grace Dent has the best seat in the house for the third and final night of Glastonbury music as she watches Faithless, Stevie Wonder and Orbital on TV

Friday: champagne with Dizzee, Snoop and Gorillaz

Saturday: cider with Scissor Sisters, Pet Shop Boys and Muse

Ok, tin hats on for Glastontelly part three. Oh how wonderful to be at home. At this moment in Somerset, thousands of mentally-awry, swivel-eyed people with third-degree burns are staggering about in circles.

"The foulest stench is in the air, the funk of 40,000 years" is how Vincent Price would describe the underwear situation of these poor souls, as they slosh back Feminax with mouthfuls of warm Teacher's, blotting out the dawn prospect of packing a five-man tent into a carrying case the size of a Malteser packet.

But not you and I, dear heart. We're Amazing. Keep me company from 7.30pm for the final night
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

News: The Eternity Trap Reaction

  • Kasterborous
Last week's spinetingling installment of The Sarah Jane Adventures saw the show perform strongly following the previous week's guest appearance from David Tennant. 7.3% of the available audience - around 0.9 million viewers according to overnight figures - saw Thursday's first part of The Eternity Trap which saw Floella Benjamin return as Professor Celeste Rivers in a more prominent role than her previous appearances. Friday's concluding episode saw 6.6% of the audience tune in - the 0.8...
See full article at Kasterborous »

DS Icon: Floella Benjamin

Floella Benjamin is a children's TV institution. The Trinidad-born presenter, who was rightly awarded an OBE in 2001, was one of the driving forces behind the long-running BBC kids shows Play School and Play Away. Alongside the likes of Brian Cant, Jeremy Irons and Johnny Ball, Benjamin kept millions of British children smiling with her enthusiasm in front of camera. Other successful projects from her '80s pomp included Channel 4's Treehouse and the zany sketch show Fast Forward. Aside from her work on children's (more)
See full article at Digital Spy - Movie News »

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