A Full Array

A lovely friend of mine expressed misgivings about the quality of the E4 comedy “Chewing Gum” compared to the recent BBC hit “Fleabag”.

Here is what they said:

“The setting for Chewing Gum is a council estate, uneducated people, and no real place to explore a world that relates to the majority of the viewers. It was really degrading as it pictured black culture as one dimensional. If I had directed and set this, she would be a high flyer that had a family from the estates. She could cross over and broaden the comedy of errors. Not all black women are sex mad, God-fearing….hang on, are they?

Fleabag was even more base, but the shock of an upper-class girl in different worlds actually made it sillier. The concept that white girls are good girls and the whole stereotype was smashed. “Chewing Gum” reinforced a low standard of stereotype for black girls.

I guess what I feel is that if she (Coel) had made Fleabag for Black People without stereotypes it would have been a bigger success…”

My thoughts were thus:

I get what you are saying totally except for one big thing.

Michaela Coel is an amazing comedy and creative talent doing HER and HER Life. She is not Phoebe-Waller Bridge nor has she lived her life. Coel’s sitcom is based on her background and her experiences and the comedy stems from that and her myriad of associated friends and characters.

Many people do this – even Black people – which is, try to make one person the voice for a whole Culture or people.

It is true about stereotypes. There is a stereotype about black women. That they are sexually experienced or oversexed. Think back on Cat woman played by Eartha Kitt. With her tight outfit and purring aggressive voice.
She symbolizes danger and predatory sexual behaviour and that stereotype goes back even further than that instance from the sixties.

However, Michaela’s character, Tracey, is a twenty-four-year-old virgin. She hasn’t had sex. She doesn’t have multiple partners. She can’t even get one! Also if you look at her sister Cynthia played by Susan Wokoma she is the complete opposite of Tracey. She hasn’t had sex and is happily waiting until she gets married. Unfortunately for her, she ends up engaged to a gay Christian (Tracey’s ex-boyfriend) who jilts Cynthia at the altar. These characters hadn’t been seen on TV before in 2015 which is why they were so refreshing and why the show was such a success both in the UK and across the pond.

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If I wrote my personal “Fleabag”, or “Chewing gum,” it would be different to both Waller-Bridge and Coel’s stories. We are all different and unlike white people on British TV, Black people are seldom allowed range. If you had twenty sitcoms about twenty black girls, they would all be different.

I love Michaela’s version and it is undeniable because it is her truth. She’s not trying to be Phoebe’s Fleabag and I’m sure Waller-Bridge would say she is not trying to copy Chewing Gum and become Coel’s Tracey.

If there were fifty more comedy shows like Chewing Gum that reflected the Black experience on broadcast television (or just out in general), there would be more range and more variety of characters shown. Then there would not be a concern about Coel “reinforcing stereotypes” because there would be balance provided by other creatives and other characters.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge showcases a middle-class world most white people are familiar with and that is because, in the UK, white people have access and more range of characters shown on British TV. The working-class world of Chewing Gum is seldom seen on TV and that is why when we do see these stories, as portrayed in shows like “Shameless” and “Clocking Off” they stand out and we can’t get enough.

White people are shown as varied people with different life experiences. We (black people) are varied too but commissioners pick and choose the life experience they think an audience will want to see or be able to handle.

Furthermore, look at what Michaela has done since Chewing Gum. See her personal range in Black Mirror, Star Wars, Been So Long, Black Earth Rising and now the breakthrough hit of 2020 BBC and HBO’s – I May Destroy You.

She is a force of nature and with the first series of Chewing Gum, she wrote several episodes before Channel 4 told her she was allowed a Script assistant or Script Editor. She worked through the night for weeks!

The last point is in regards to success. Chewing Gum cleaned up at the BAFTA, ScreenNation, Black Reel, and the RTS Awards both for Comedy Performance, Comedy Writing, and Production. For that youth audience, class, and demographic it was extremely successful.

Fleabag was successful too. Forty-nine Awards and fifty-three nominations across BAFTA, Golden Globes, and many others for a different class and demographic. Therefore I don’t think we can compare their success. The Fleabag upper-class demographic was easier to promote in the US because Americans love posh Brits, also because the Production Company and Network had the money to enter Fleabag into every conceivable award that was out there; it had an added advantage. Fleabag was, on paper, more successful due to the might behind it and all the Distribution deals it acquired both sides of the Atlantic. Both shows were successful and they were both different and one should not be taken from the other. If anything, Chewing Gum punched above its weight because it came from a smaller channel, a smaller Production company with fewer connections worldwide.

Once again I appreciate the analysis and it’s not the first time those misgivings have been heard. However, I don’t believe Coel can be responsible for the lack of range on the TV or in the Film Industry or life in general. As a Black Creative, my job is to redress the balance by offering more Diverse Stories so that Michaela can carry on being her and people like me can carry on being me.

The Black Female MD

HighFireFilms.com

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The Write Stuff, By Michelle Brooks

It was through my “morning pages” I uncovered my first two Specialist Factual pieces. “Brides and Prejudice” and the controversially titled “Why Should I Get Married?”

It was through writing and rewriting pages of A4 that I discovered there were things on my mind that were similar to the things that were on lots of ladies’ minds of my age. So I started writing.

And it got me thinking about Jane Austin and how all those years ago women were forced into roles that they did not want. Roles that they did not need, that forced them to be a shadow of themselves, when they could be more and have more out of life. We were seen as no other use to society than being the mother, the wife or the bearer of children. And I had bigger fish to fry.

I loved my writing. I loved to have my Ideas completely unfettered. I had been working for five years in a Creative agency in London and we would get regular briefs. I would write three ideas then a little script. The things I wrote for, TV spots, they would be thirty, forty or sixty seconds long

So as you can imagine, even though I loved the variety and pace of writing promos there came a time when I wanted to write more than a thirty or forty second spot.
I realised I was attracted to the world of television programme-making and to the people who had the time and space to create something that was thirty, forty or sixty minutes long. The people that were given free rein to let their creativity spill forth. I admired them and I envied them.

Until the point where I realised I could do that too. I too could be one of them. And that the only thing that stopped me was my imagination and my self-belief. So the first thing I thought of doing -in what turned out to be my last year of my time at the agency – was to think of all the people I would love to connect with. People who were already living their passions.

There were people out there that were doing some amazing things. At the time we had people like Levi Roots the Reggae Reggae sauce man who came on Dragons Den. He famously strutted in with his guitar, pitched his idea, got all the numbers wrong and still walked away with a massive investment from Entrepreneur Peter Jones. He launched his sauce, his restaurant and got his product into supermarkets up and down the country.

There were people like inventor Mandy Haberman who invented her baby sucking device so that children without pallets could drink and suck properly from an early age. There was controversial Muslim teacher turned comedienne Shazia Mirza and so many others I could think of that I wanted to interview.

I had to sit down and write a long list. Before I could finish the list I already had the idea for the name of the series I wanted to create. They were used to getting their ideas off the ground. They heard all the no’s and yet they still kept on coming. They pushed aside their fears to make an impact. I had the idea of calling it Make Your Mark. It wasn’t earth shattering but back then it felt like a breakthrough.

Still there was no way I was ever going to get a chance to make this series. Or so I thought at the time. But then, as luck would have it, a colleague of mine was leaving the agency and he was starting up a new TV channel with a friend of his. I don’t know how it came about but I ended up emailing him a list of show ideas that I had planned for Make Your Mark and all the people I wanted to interview. I had a full-time job and long hours in the edit suite. I was up to my eyes in work but still knew I wanted to make this show. I was writing scripts in the night and I was doing my job in the day. I had to find a way!

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People would ask me why are you always here? Why are you so busy? I couldn’t tell them my idea in case everything fell apart. Throughout all of this I kept on writing. I wrote to my potential guests. I wrote a budget because we didn’t have a production manager on board so I used the show budget the channel offered as a guide and worked out how much we would spend. I broke it down, area by area. This much on locations, this much on transport. This much for lighting and camera. This much for crew and this much for post-production and audio.

I thought, how can I spend all this money cost effectively to get all these interviews filmed and edited and out on air. Twelve interview for twenty thousand pounds. Back then it was thought of as madness. We didn’t have all the apps and transcription software. We didn’t have DITs and offline workflow. I kept tweaking. I kept on pushing. And I kept on writing.

I kept on writing, I revised my budgets, I kept on writing. I booked my cameraman, I kept on writing, I booked locations. I wrote letters next. I wrote to Levi Roots. I wrote to Mandy Haberman. I wrote to Sophie Morgan the wheelchair activist, presenter and model from the Channel 4 Paralympics. I wrote to Shazia Mirza the controversial Muslim comedienne. I wrote to Danny Kruger MBE, David Cameron’s chief Speechwriter and the ex-leader writer who is now the current MP for Devizes. Back in 2009 he had a charity, Only Connect, that was devoted to helping Ex-offenders rehabilitate themselves when they left prison. His Charity work with his wife Emma really stood out and in 2017 earned him n MBE. I wrote to anyone and everyone I could think of who I thought had a fantastic idea and who was truly changing the world we lived in and Making Their Mark.

And that’s when I realised the power of writing. On the page I didn’t have a colour. I had an idea. On the page, if the idea was good enough, you were good enough. On the page, if they liked the concept they would go with it. When I sent my treatment I was surprised to get the message the Channel Head had said yes. He wanted to commission the series.

That was one of many series that I created for that channel. The Channel was called OHTV and sadly it no longer exists. However back in 2009 it was an absolute powerhouse. For Black Entertainment it punched way above its weight and was positioned alongside BET, another Black Entertainment Channel.

OHTV, was really pushing back boundaries on TV and won numerous Awards including Channel of the Year. Sitting on Sky channel 199 alongside BET the American Entertainment Channel, was also a boon. It meant people often fell onto us by chance and never left. Sadly, whilst it fell victim to underfunding and poor business choices, the American Channel BET has gone from strength to strength and is now recognised as being one of the biggest black entertainment channels out there at the moment.

So yes, to cut a long story short the writing did it. It was all about the writing. Ultimately a succession of words strung together in a particular way, made a connection. They reached out and touched somebody and made a difference.

My second piece of work for the channel was “Brides and Prejudice”. As my first authored piece, it had an even bigger impact and touched even more people. Written by me about my relationship struggles my Executive Producer had said, “It’s your story. Why don’t you present it?” Feeling exposed and ill-equipped I took a chance and trusted his advice. The story was bigger. It was about the plight of the growing group of Single Black Women in the UK. It examined their high numbers compared to their white counterparts. It seemed at the time that all races were turning their backs on them but the biggest sleight of all was coming from Black men.

I interviewed these women and their voices resonated through the TV screens. Because our COO was a genius of marketing and had created the OHBOX, These women and their stories resonated across the globe. We had a Hairdresser, a Journalist a Teacher, Barbers, a Makeup Artist even a Vicar all offering their perspectives on why the situation for Black Women was so dire. We had a Dating Coach and a Flirting Expert all sharing tips on how to successful bag a man and we came to conclusions about what these women could do to move their lives forward and become more committed and successful in their search.

Back in 2010 people from all over the world, from Africa, America, Mexico, Spain and the Caribbean were all reaching out to me to say “we loved your show”. We saw it over here and we thought it was “hilarious” or “heart-warming” or “really sad”. They watched me practicing flirting technique on unsuspecting strangers and tweeted me their approval. They said, We want to know more about you,” and also, “we are going through the same thing these women are going through.” And the more pertinent and pointed, “Have you met anyone yet?”

The series was all about Single black women in the UK struggling to find a partner. So many of these women would be forced to leave the country disappointed by the reality of dating in the UK. The struggles went on and on and these people were desperate and saddened by all they felt and all they saw. Some went off to Africa or Caribbean to seek love there. One couple even got together after our show!

The statistics showed that the highest percentage of single people were single black women in the UK. These women often threw themselves into work and indirectly this led to them having the unique achievement of become the highest earning women in the UK due to the fact they focused on their career and seldom took time out to start a family. (Telegraph, 2010).

I’m glad to see that ten years on we have more and more and more black female role models who are proudly announcing that they feel desirable, seen as attractive and who are seen in relationships with all races including black men. They seem happy in whatever relationship they choose to be in and keen to move on. There are more avenues to see attractive Black Women and we have more exposure to powerful and beautiful Black Women and their stories through websites and social media like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Our UK Broadcasters have been slow to take up the mantel and therefore have left the field wide open for the streamers like Amazon Prime and Netflix to champion Black female talent with shows like Insecure, Dear White People, Self-Made and Black Earth Rising.

OHTV had big connections in Africa and it was not afraid to champion the Diaspora. Sadly, it did not have deep enough pockets to create the quality that audiences so deeply craved. Despite this it’s important to say that back in 2010, OHTV, as it was back then, was dealing with all these issues. OHTV dealt with the discrimination of black women and the oppression and marginalization of black men. It was dealing with the way people saw us and our identity.

Sadly, as mentioned before, it was a black television station and it was underfunded and now it’s moved onto the Internet where certainly gets big numbers but doesn’t have half the creative support it had back then.

So to get to the point if we hadn’t written the stories we wrote and made the shows we did we would not have come to the understanding that we had with all these amazing talents in our team. And because the projects we worked on were often for micro-budgets and under supported the people who get together to create these powerful forces and these unique pieces of content disband and go and find other work. The work is devalued and worse they’re not kept in the television industry and again the talent is all wasted. it’s all for nothing.

The young people coming up through some diversity scheme or working for these channels think their work will be respected and it’s ignored because the quality is not there and there is no empathy for the stories. Back then, commissioners struggled to see the relevance of black life stories and therefore didn’t commission them. “We’ve had one already of those this month, we’ve already got one black comedian. We’ve got one black person on the panel show. We can’t have one more.

And these are the things we have to deal with on a regular basis. For changes to happen throughout different industries, throughout the TV industry and the film industry and the music industry and all the other industries, we have to accept that black people are part of the fabric of society. UK Black History is British History and Black stories matter. Just as you can have a variety of white stories you should have no problem hearing multiple black stories, with multiple black characters.

That for me is true Diversity in Acton.

And that’s why I write our stories. I write to right them.

By Michelle Brooks

The Black Female MD
Showpatrol.TV

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Into The Light

Woman Looking Into The Light

As a child, I was a plump, shy, eczema ridden, and a bookish child. It was a revelation to everyone. Therefore, when I managed to get a place at Rose Bruford Drama School and trained as an actress. My family were shocked. Born from hardworking first generation Jamaicans – A nurse and a Factory Supervisor, nobody had ever thought of TV or Theatre as a career for me. Radio maybe, but not TV.

My joy was short-lived however, when, a year into the training, I had a horrific accident and detached my right retina.

After an operation and a year out to recover, I retrained in Media Production and started acting again. I also wrote roles for myself and my friends and danced street dance with my dance partner in Night and Day Jazz Club, Tib Street.

For me being active again was a real gift and after applying for five TV jobs a week, was lucky enough to get a break as a Junior Researcher at BBC Entertainment in Salford, working on the A Force Strand with the Cream of Black British Comedy Talent. Shows like Blouse and Skirt and Brothers and Sisters were brilliant fun but sadly came to an end.

Fortunately, I had some experience and when I returned to London I got snapped up again and worked for BBC Creative, Media Trust, and various Sky Channels making promos and programmes for Broadcast for ten years.

Still passionate about acting and theatre I kept on writing and pitching and was introduced to a Development Head and asked to Produce Live Engagement at BBC Children In Need in 2013. This was amazing and opened my eyes to the world of Live TV.

I went back to Producing events in London and built websites for the shows I had developed and that is how I got picked up by Twitter UK to Lead their Live Video team.

The rush of helping companies and businesses create their own Videos and Content was amazing and I have met some amazing people doing this.

During Lockdown, I started doing more of my own content online and grew my FB followers by 4000 doing Facebook Lives and I really loved the experience.

If you are interested in growing your followers, getting more leads, or just getting better at Live Video drop me a line, and let’s talk some more.

Michelle Brooks
TV Content Producer and Trainer

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Black Pound Day

The campaign has been set-up for people across the UK to support and invest in Black-Owned businesses for one day, every month in a way similar to Small Business Saturday. With the description reading: “We will replace our normal purchases with Black-owned businesses, where possible for one full day.”

The day was created by Swiss, a musician from the UK hip hop and garage group So Solid Crew, in response to the tragic killing of George Floyd, which sparked the Worldwide Black Lives Matter Protests. The new initiative boasts a website with ever growing directory of businesses from all over the UK. So if you are looking to support more than your local Caribbean eatery you will find plenty of choice there.

The organisation’s website reads: “[Swiss’] idea hopes to underpin our long-term financial growth and infrastructure, empowering and motivating the Black community.

“The day is also an opportunity to find out how everyone can support Black businesses over the long-term. So don’t forget to share brands that you love, businesses that you can’t live without, and make sure to hashtag #BlackPoundDay.”

When is the Day?
The day is on the 27th of each month, so if you missed it this time feel free to keep an eye out and put it in your diary for July.

How can we get involved?
If you visit the official website blackpoundday.uk, you can go to the ‘shop’ tab, where you can search what type of item/service you’re looking to purchase and where in the country you’re based.
It will then give you a list of Black-owned businesses in your area that are selling what you want to purchase.

We at Showpatrol TV are more than happy to support this new initiative and have added ourselves to the directory in the “Entertainment Section” here.
When you make a purchase feel free to photograph your receipts and email them in to the team at #blackpoundday as they are keeping a track of the impact.

The website home page also links you to a number of other Black owned portals like UkBlackOwned and Gymelanine. If you are committed to changing the outcomes for Black People then BlackPoundday.uk is good place to start.

But what do you think? Will this monthly initiative last? Is one day a month going to make any difference?

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Why Black Lives Matter in the UK

This is the longest post I’ve ever written. It’s about Black Lives Matter and Why it is right the UK is angry about George Floyd and British Racism. It was written end of May when the emotion was still raw. Please stick with it til the end…

Today has been such a long day. The day after the week before.
I’ve had so many conversations in this last week. I’ve had more conversations about race in the last week then maybe the whole of the last 20 years put together. Discussions about racism and prejudice and black women and black men and what’s going on in America and what’s going on in the UK. Is it the same over here as over there and why are we getting angry in the UK about what’s happening in the US? Why do we care, why do we bother ? People telling me it’s not the same over here as there.

I have to say I’ve had so many conversations but it all comes down to the same thing. Yes in America they have lots of guns. We don’t have as many guns in the UK as they have in the US. But I don’t believe we need guns to commit violence. I do not believe we need guns to kill or maim. We don’t need guns to inflict lasting damage.

When I was a child growing up and going to primary school I did not need a child to have a gun or a knife for them to inflict wounds so deep and painful they would last a lifetime. When I was young there was a saying that sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. I can tell you now that was absolutely bullsh*t. Names can and do hurt. Names that are repeated again and again and again and again do hurt. They can’t be forgotten.

So it isn’t just the physical abuses that people are bringing up and have been bringing up over the last week or ten days, it’s the emotional abuse.
It’s the fact that when you report to somebody what’s happened to you, you’re not believed. You’re accused of being “aggressive” or a “diva” or some other words used to silence you and keep you down.
It’s the fact you get forced out of jobs or Companies for being a troublemaker or calling out the bs.

And all this takes a toll. I would love to say that I have lots of white friends. The truth is it takes a long time for me to truly trust any friends but especially if they’re white. I have to ask why are they my friend? What do they want from me? And can they be trusted not to stick the knife in. And all these things take time and as I get older I realise I have less time. When somebody asks “how can I be less racist” what’s going through my mind is how much time do I have? This is a discussion that has been raging for over 100 years and yet people step forward now.

I spend my days doing long hours. I do the work finding out how to be a better person for me. I read books , I listen to music, I go onto YouTube, I do research and coaching. I know more about my white friends and colleagues, about their lives then i feel like they know about mine. All the TV programmes I watch are all about their lives. If there is a TV show full of black people will they just turn over and think it does not relate to them? I hope not now.

So what I’m saying is Black Lives Matter. We’re not at the point yet where all lives matter equally. It would be great but we’re not there yet. For us to get to that point where All Lives Matter all of us have to do the work and some people need to do more heavy lifting than others to find out about black people’s lived experience.

They have to teach their children about different cultures and shut down racism the instant it rears its head.

Dear White People,
We know so much about your lives but how much do you really know or care about ours?

And for those names that wouldn’t hurt me? They did hurt me and shaped the experiences of people in my family and of my friends growing up. This is what resonates and you can’t get rid of those experiences just like that. Maybe you can ask your black friend to share incidents with you but be aware they may still be traumatised by those experiences. Asking how you can be better aware or less racist can sound to them like a lazy way of going about it.
The honest truth is you can just do the research, you can just consume the media , read the books listen to the audio files, look on YouTube search on Google.
There’s lots of stuff out there.

At the moment there’s also a lot of suffering out there so rather than dig into somebody else’s pain, explore for yourself. Hopefully, you’ll get to a better place where you don’t have to keep asking. Open your Antennae to the world, and when you hear somebody talking about racism don’t shut them down. Listen to what they have to say. Read what they’ve asked you to read. Listen, ask questions but really listen.

Above all don’t assume you’re always right. Black Lives do matter and for all lives to matter we have to do the work. To not just be comfortable in our skin, step inside and get underneath somebody else’s. Spend a day in their shoes just try to imagine what it might just be like just for one day. Then multiply that, not just by years but decades . Decades of constant torture and trauma and abuse. Black Lives Matter but let’s work towards a day when all lives matter and when Black Lives are not characterised by physical violence and psychological abuse.

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Olympic Women: Slaying in their Lanes

Women Who Wow – The Olympics 2018

This Olympics I have enjoyed some amazing performances that have surprised and delighted.

 

Nigeria’s amazing Bobsled team – Making History.

From Lizzy Yarnold winning gold in the Skeleton Bob and the Nigerian Bobsled Team capturing the imagination and making History the Championships has had it all.

We saw snowboarder Esther Ledecker take home not just one but two golds at PyeongChang in the Super G and the Parallel Slalom.

But the journey has been hard fought and won with changes in society and the lack of legislation in the IOC meaning it has taken this long to get full participation across all the sports.

I’m looking forward to women slaying in their lanes in the future and pushing back the boundaries in the future.

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Brides and Prejudice: A Royal Wedding and How to Get Your TV Show to the Screen

Brides and Prejudice, A Royal Wedding and Get Your Show Idea to the Screen

Talk is all over the media of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Spring Wedding and this young Royal Couple can certainly expect a lot of attention in the up and coming months.

All this current wedding fever takes me back to the Spring of 2011 when as a Producer at Sky Channel 199 I wrote Produced and Directed the TV Series “Why Should I Get Married?

Timed to coincide with the Wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton we explored the drop in the marriage statistics discovered that year, visited The National Wedding Show at Earls Court and interviewed couples from all over the country about the pros and cons of married life.

Candy Anthony

Back in 2011 the marriage statistics were severely depressed but the Wedding Industry seemed to be thriving. Designers Candy Antony were displaying their 1950s Wedding dresses on the day and they took time out to help us and discuss with us how they met and fell in love whilst working at Hyper Hyper in Kensington High Street.

The Idea

Back when I had the idea for the documentary I was not entirely convinced I would get the show commissioned.  I had decided in 2010 when I had the idea for writing and Producing the show, to bring a broadcast Digital Camera EX3 to the Wedding Show and (together with my cameraman) film several fashions shows and randomly interview guests and Exhibitors as potential Contributors.

The hall was packed and you would have no idea that there was any dip in marriage interest judging by the speed at which money was exchanging hands. These sample interviews and Catwalk fashion show were the basis of my pitch to the Channel and I am still surprised at how many of the original characters and interviews we managed to keep for the broadcast transmissions.

“As with any TV project, research plays a valuable part.”

Once the show was commissioned we then went back and researched more contributors to provide the balance and counter story about the rising divorce rates.

As with any TV project, research plays a valuable part. When pitching to any channel be prepared to allow time to research much more than you actually need. This part of the legwork is often unpaid “pre-production” and you need to be prepared to do it to show your commitment, especially if you are from outside of the channel or production company.

Vanessa Lloyd-Platt

With “Why Should I Get Married?” once we were given the go ahead we spent months researching contributors before we fell upon GMTV’s Vanessa Lloyd Platt who was an excellent find.   Vanessa had some great Divorce stories to tell, including her own unfortunate split from her husband. This side of the show proved a vital component in telling the full story of Marriage in the UK.

The Creative Concept

The other thing that proved an essential part of the documentary was the visual concept.  The show’s titles graphics and artwork were fun, cheeky and inspired by the 1980s sitcom Soap and it’s the one thing that people always approach me to talk about.

Soap was a sitcom about two sisters from two families the Tates and the Campbells and the TV hit had titles featuring the two families fighting acrimoniously before cheesily posing for their posed family photograph.  The still photos hid the friction and rivalry that ran through the two sister’s family.

My promo –in a similar fashion – showed three couples posing for their glossy family wedding photos – all with captions highlighting their inner concerns about taking the plunge.

Why Should I Get Married? from Michelle Brooks on Vimeo.

The Music

The show’s theme music, “I Want You to Love Me” was a track I chose from AudioNetworks and this theme was so catchy people were sure it had been specially written for the show.

The Edit

Offline edited by myself I was really lucky to get the Award Winning Editor Andrew Webber to online this show and one tip I would always share is a great Editor is worth his weight in gold. Andrew with his impeccable creativity, impossibly high standards and loads of patience for our long days and my (sometimes dodgy camera work) meant I was really relieved and happy when we finally got to the finished product.

 

Brides and Prejudice: Why Should I Get Married? Ep1 Pt1 from Michelle Brooks on Vimeo.

The Audience Response

The show was transmitted on the Friday 29th April 2011, the day  of Prince William and the then  Catherine Middleton’s Wedding and it was so popular that the Channel COO requested we repeat it again the following week.

Til this day I maintain the success of the show really was down to the subject of weddings – which is always extremely popular, the authenticity and diversity of the talent and contributors as well as the way we treated the subject matter: with humour and honesty.

Relevance & Authenticity

Relevance and authenticity are something I believe always resonates with people and something I always recommend when you are thinking of a subject matter for a TV Show.

As a perennially Single lady, Why Should I Get Married? was an important subject for me to investigate and so I was unafraid to publically challenge the norms surrounding marriage and as a result, despite its low budget in broadcast terms, it has always been one of my proudest TV moments.

In terms of relevance today’s marriage statistics tell a similar story to 2011……  and yet again we see the same thing with TV, Radio and mainstream press all going into overdrive and as the news hits that the Wedding is scheduled for Windsor Castle in May.

So whilst we are due to spend many months poring over every single detail of the Royal couples lives and plans for their big day let’s hope we don’t lose our respect for the sanctity of marriage and our realism that such a wonderful and special union for some people is not always right for everyone.

Michelle Brooks is a TV Producer  and Director with Twenty years experience in TV and Content Creation. With articles published in The Voice, Pride Magazine and BECTU Magazine Michelle has been interviewed on the BBC Radio and is also the Founder and Director of Showpatrol.TV in West London

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Muhammad Ali, The Greatest Farewell

He was The Greatest in life, and so he is in death.
As a testament to that incredible life, Muhammad Ali’s widow and two ex-wives pay their respects to legendary boxer alongside thousands of mourners at a traditional Islamic prayer service in Kentucky on Thursday 9th June 2016.

The family of boxing legend Muhammad Ali joined thousands of mourners for the traditional Muslim prayer service at Kentucky’s Freedom Hall on Thursday to celebrate the sporting legend’s extraordinary life.

Laila Ali mourns

More than 14,000 thousand mourners attended the traditional Muslim Jenazah service which last a little over an hour for the three-time world champion boxer who died Friday at age 74.

His widow and fourth wife, Lonnie, daughters, Laila and Hana, and granddaughter Sydney, were photographed inside looking sombre at the service, which marks the start of two days of ceremonies honoring the Muslim-convert sports star who died following an epic 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.
In addition, Ali’s second wife, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, and his third wife, Veronica Porche-Ali, were in attendance. His first wife, Sonji Roi, passed away in 2005.

Muslims travelled from all over the world to stand pay their final respects, in a Kentucky arena which would have made him proud.

In addition his funeral service will be held today on Friday 10th June 9am ET and will be a Muslim service which will connect people from all faiths. Ever aware of his condition he had spent years preparing the service by writing in something he called “The Book” and so the service will literally be his own last message to the world.

At 2pm ET there will be a memorial which can be viewed live on the page cbsnews.com/live

A truly sad day. We will never see his like again.
R.I.P. Brother Muhammad.

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Muhammad Ali Dies at 74

Muhammad-Ali-boxer

The Legendary Boxer Muhammad Ali died on Friday, 3rd June 2016 after an epic 32 year battle with Parkinsons disease.

As a child I watched his sporting fights (and political ones) through the one TV in our tiny living room, and was struck by how Ali brought people together. Whether you loved sport, politics or entertainment he was quite simply a knockout.

An inspiration to people of every class, race and creed. His spirit will live on and on.
He transcended his sport to become a leader of men.

R.I.P. Muhammad Ali

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4th Annual U.S Immigration Day

Black_CelebsinHollywood
Many of us will have no doubt read articles about the rise of the Black British Actor in America as well as other Creative Talent like our best directors, producers and screenwriters. So have you ever thought about seeking out those opportunities and carving out your career stateside?

If so then get make sure you attend the 4th Annual Immigration day this
Friday 26th June 2015 at 10am at 25 Sackville Street, Mayfair W1.

Here U.S. Immigration Lawyer Joe Adams of Joe Adams Esq tells you all you need to know to get started, and what to avoid if you are already on your way.

Joe recently featured in the BECTU (Broadcast Entertainment and Cinematograph Trade Union) Freelancer’s Fair as part of Michelle Brooks’ Diamond Visas –Working Overseas Seminar and proved massively popular. If you have been thinking about making the break, make sure you get your facts about Visas and paperwork from the man himself!

To book click here

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