Lenny Henry’s Caribbean Britain – BBC 2


It was rather nice to hear the Manchester United Calypso being mentioned as an early example of Caribbean influence on British culture 🙂 .  I’m not quite sure when it was revived, probably about 10 years ago, but it was the first ever official United song recorded, in the mid-1950s, when it was sung by Edric Connor, who’d come to the UK from Trinidad.   I like calypso music.  I don’t, I have to say, get grime music at all: this programme began with someone chanting “Brush your teeth, brush your teeth” whilst two red buses went past, and I just did not see/hear the appeal!   But we don’t all have to like everything, eh?

This two-programme series had its moments, but, compared to the positivity of Back In Time For Birmingham, it was quite negative. It felt at times, especially during the first episode, as if they were accusing practically everyone – other than Big Ted and Little Ted, who were pictured with Floella Benjamin and brought back lots of memories – of being racist; and there were a lot of references to “them” and “us”.

But, as I said, it had its moments – the Notting Hill Carnival was shown in a very positive light, as were Rastafarian, reggae and ska music. And jungle and grime, but I’m too old for them 😄.  There was also quite a lot about art, TV and theatre, and most of that was relatively positive. certainly in the second episode.  What Lenny Henry said about black comedians feeling that they had to poke fun at themselves will resonate with comedians from any sort of minority group, and I really enjoyed the sections about Caribbean food.  But there did seem to be this very strong emphasis on “them and us”, and I’m not sure how helpful that was.

I was expecting there to be quite a lot about sport, given the number of top British sportspeople with Caribbean heritage, but all we really got was how great Viv Richards was.  Yes, of course he was great, but I was disappointed not to get any mention of black British sportspeople as opposed to West Indian sportspeople.  Maybe they avoided that because everyone knows about the huge contribution made to British sport by people with Caribbean heritage, and they wanted to focus on the arts and cookery instead?

I enjoyed the second episode much more than the first, probably because it featured some big names from the ’80s, but, overall it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting.





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