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7 Shows to Stream During Black History Month

It’s October, which means it’s Black History Month in the UK! We are lucky enough to be living during a time where, at a click of a button, we have unprecedented access to a plethora of films, TV shows, and documentaries that shed light on the Black experience in the UK, as well as the rest of the Diaspora. As autumn begins to rear its head signalling snuggle down season, read on for our top picks of binge-worthy TV where Black stories are front and centre.

White Nanny Black Child

White Nanny Black Child explores a unique social trend during the ‘70s whereby a number of Nigerian families fostered their children into white families. This moving documentary features the personal testimonies of those Black children (who are now adults), who had to endure everything from overt racism, being othered, teased, displaced, and a wealth of other challenging experiences. White Nanny Black Child makes for some uncomfortable and heart-wrenching viewing and should be compulsive viewing, as it offers an unflinching view of what Britain was like for 1st and 2nd generation Black Brits who had to navigate a flawed care system coupled with a racially intolerant society.  

Stream it here

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First Ladies of Hip-Hop 

Hip-hop is all grown up, having turned 50 this year. In celebration, BBC3 will be airing a documentary titled First Ladies of Hip-Hop that features the stories of the women who helped to shape the musical genre now considered one of the most dominant and culturally influential. Neneh Cherry narrates the 3-part doc, which features appearances from female hip-hop luminaries, including the UK’s very own Estelle, Speech Debelle and Cookie from the Cookie Crew, as well as hip-hop trailblazers from across the pond, such as Roxanne Shante, Jazzy Joyce, YoYo, and Spinderella. 

Stream it here  

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Small Axe 

If you missed filmmaker Steve McQueen’s magnum opus ‘Small Axe’, charting the Black British experience, then this month is the perfect time to stream it and immerse yourself in this powerful 5-part series. Described as McQueen’s love letter to the strength and resilience of Britain’s West Indian Community, Small Axe portrays Black British life in all its beauty, complexity, and diversity. Spanning a time period between the ‘70s to the late ‘80s, highlights include ‘Lovers Rock’, a dreamy and beautifully shot film that features a young couple who embark on a romance after meeting at a house party; as well as ‘Mangrove’, that tells the true story of the Mangrove Nine, who were arrested and acquitted for inciting a riot during a protest against police discrimination. This landmark trial is considered to be the first judicial acknowledgment of institutional racism within the Met.

Stream it here  

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Desmond’s 

Britain’s longest standing and most beloved Black sitcom ‘Desmond’s is available to stream on channel 4. Starring the late Norman Beaton as the owner of a self-titled barbershop based in Peckham, South London, the show centred around Desmond and his family and the many colourful characters that frequented the establishment. The show first aired on Channel 4 in 1989 and ran for an impressive six years. Stream the whole six seasons for laughs aplenty and a nostalgic trip through pre-gentrified Peckham.

Stream it here

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Supreme Models – YouTube Black Voices

Nineties supermodels are having a moment, and rightly so. September marked the debut of the much-publicised Apple TV documentary series The Supermodels, chronicling the lives and cultural impact of the original supermodels – Naomi, Cindy, Christy, and Linda. Following the success of the documentary, it was recently announced that a certain Ms Naomi Campbell would be honoured via an exhibition at London’s V&A Museum celebrating her 40-year modelling career.  If you’d like to gain an insight into the lives of other Black models who have also blazed a trail in the fashion industry, check out the six-part series on YouTube called Supreme Models. Each episode focuses on a specific era of the fashion industry, exploring how Black models often had to navigate an industry that often tried to minimise, sideline and overlook them in favour of their European counterparts. The series features appearances from the crème de la crème of Black models past, present, and future, including Iman, Pat Cleavland, Zendaya, Veronica Webb, Joan Smalls and many more. 

Stream it here

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Our Black History Heroes

If you have children and are seeking a series that portrays Black History in a fun and inspirational way, then check out the BBC series Our Black History Heroes. Narrated by young people of colour, the animated show features a range of history-making figures from the past 200 years, and it’s a diverse set too – from Malcolm X, Jay Z, to Mary Seacole and Maya Angelou. Each show is only 2 minutes long, so it is perfect for introducing young kids to these celebrated history makers and trailblazers.

Stream it here

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Imagine…Malorie Blackman: What if?

Malorie Blackman is one of Britain’s most beloved writers, who has gained literary prominence and notoriety through her novel Noughts and Crosses, the bestselling literary masterpiece in which racial hierarchies are reversed. Alan Yentob offers an intimate profile of Malorie, as she walks us through the old south London childhood haunts that helped to shape her as a writer.

Stream it here

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