‘Black British Comedy: Desmond’s and the Changing Face of Television’

Osborne, Deirdre. 2016. ‘Black British Comedy: Desmond’s and the Changing Face of Television’. In: J Kamm and B Neumann, eds. British TV Comedies. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 236-258. ISBN 9781137552945 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Set in barber’s shop and featuring a black British family, the comedy series Desmond’s remains today at 84 episodes, British television network Channel 4’s longest running serial. Its popularity among black and white audiences created a cultural crossover point and the series also aired the nuances of intra-racial tensions between black citizens based upon African and Caribbean cultural affiliations and identities. In a contemporary context where black faces remain in a minority in televisual culture and black actors obtain more work in the US than the country of their birth, this chapter takes stock of the fact that the wry humour offered by Desmond’s has proven to be a unique landmark in British television history, as its popularity signalled a plausible and viable inclusion of black people’s experiences into a well-loved television genre, the domestic situation comedy, for which Britain has an established and noteworthy tradition.

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Book Section

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Theatre and Performance (TAP)



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Date Deposited:

14 Mar 2017 11:54

Last Modified:

03 Jul 2017 11:34



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