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AMANDA AMORY ~ WRITER

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Amanda Amory - Writer
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When I first seriously got into scriptwriting, which was in Secondary School, I set about getting myself a Literary agent and with the help of my trusty Writers and Artists Yearbook,
I wrote to numerous Literary Agencies trying to seek representation. I had written the first three episodes of my Black British Soap Opera Trent Road and naively thought that I was on my way to making it.
 
 
 
Of course, as every writer has experienced, I received numerous rejection letters. Some of the agencies I chose either had enough talent on their books and weren't looking to expand their client base. However, one rejection letter I received left me feeling very angry and upset.  The Agent (who shall remain nameless) said he understood my frustration at there being a lack of Black representation on television but informed me that "there isn't a large enough black population in the world to make it economically viable".

 

 

 

WHICH MEANS HE BELIEVES THAT THERE IS NOT ENOUGH BLACK PEOPLE WORLDWIDE TO MAKE REPRESENTATION ON TELEVISION FINANCIALLY WORTHWHILE.

 

 

 

But it would be. We're a part of this world and we should be represented more on television. And in a positive light. Not just as token characters. As main characters in engaging dramas who have great stories to tell and will do so in ways that will ensure that the viewers care about them and will tune in next week to see what happens to them next.

 

 

 

There is such a wealth of vibrancy, humour, pathos, drama, entertainment and passion in the Black community that deserves to be heard and enjoyed by those who love television, as much as I do, always have and always will. And also in our history as well, all of which would make for remarkable and interesting dramas.

 

 

For example: did you know that an African-American man called Garrett Augustus Morgan invented the traffic signal and was responsible for the world's first hair-straightening implement? Were you aware that Olaudah Equiano, the first liberated slave in Victorian England also went on to write a best-selling book and was considered gentry during that era?

 

 

 

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American fighter pilots to fight for the United States in WWII and thousands of West Indian men and women who fought the same war in this country. And across the pond, Madame CJ Walker was the first African-American woman to patent hair products in her home and subsequently changed the hair of Black women everywhere.

 

 

 

These are all wonderful, inspirational and historical examples of how Black people before us have changed the face of the world and also contributed to it in their own indomitable way - and I think it's time that their lives were celebrated and documented on television. I am so thankful for these people and for the fact that there are already a number of talented and respected representatives on television who have blazed a creative and historical trail for

us, but there is still room for more. Much more.

 

 

 

Soap Operas are popular mainstream staples on TV on all the channels, but the number

of Black characters in them is very poor and there is definite room for improvement. The number of drama series and serials on our TV screens right now that have a mainly Black British cast are sadly virtually non-existent. Will we ever see a Black family introduced in Coronation Street or Emmerdale? There have been a few Black characters in the past and a few in Corrie now, but still not enough.

 

 

 

In 1978, The BBC began showing an all Black and Asian soap called Empire Road, which was written by Guyanese writer Michael Abbensetts and was only aired for two years. It is a sad reflection on a multicultural society that 34 years later, there hasn't been an attempt to recreate a Black-British soap opera - or even drama series - where Empire Road left off. Especially when the need for one is long overdue.

 

 

 

It is even sadder that an “all-Black” 2009 episode of Eastenders elicited over 200 complaints from angry viewers. The Tory MP David Davies said that the episode would “wind up a lot of non-black people”.  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1153903/BBCs-black-episode-EastEnders-watched-8-4million-viewers.html

 

 

 

 

 

I don't see why. Yes, the episode in question centred on the Notting Hill Riots, which was integral to the story, and is also a major part of Black British history. I am West Indian and have nephews, nieces and a great niece of mixed race parentage (Norway, France, England and The Czech Republic. I also have a nephew and two nieces who dream of becoming actors,  two of whom are studying the craft at University, so of course I am going to write scripts with a broad ethnic mix. It’s just wrong that TV Producers do not realise the richness of the Black-British community that deserves to be shown on our TV screens. There are a few notable Black actors currently on our UK screens but you can count them on one hand. And that’s just not good enough.

 

 

 

 

The actor David Harewood, currently starring in acclaimed US drama series Homeland recently was quoted in The Sun criticising British TV’s lack of “risk taking” in developing more Black roles and said that it was less ambitious than its US counterpart. Waving the flag in The States alongside fellow actor Idris Elba who starred in The Wire, Mr Harewood encouraged young Black actors to seek acting jobs in America as “there aren’t that many roles for authoritative, strong black characters in this country.”

 

 

 

 

He has a very good point. British TV seems to have given up – especially when it comes to drama and they shouldn’t. BBC2 tried ten years ago with a soap opera Brothers and Sisters that was part of a late night Black-British entertainment show The A Force but nothing since then.

 

 

 

 

Comedy hasn't fared any better.  Desmond's, written by Trix Worrell and starring the late

and lamented Norman Beaton and Carmen Monroe was a very popular and consistently funny sitcom that centred around a Black-British family run Barbershop but has not been repeated on TV for years since it ended in 1994. In 1976 Norman Beaton and Carmen Monroe also starred in the family sitcom The Fosters alongside a young Lenny Henry,

who played their son, but like Empire Road it only aired for two years.

 

 

 

 

Seminal '90s sketch show The Real McCoy which recently enjoyed a 21st anniversary Q&A session in London has yet to have been bettered or sadly repeated, with rumours of the BBC having wiped the show's master tapes, making YouTube the only place to watch it.  To their credit, BBC1 tried with The Crouches, penned by Ian Pattison (creator of Rab C Nesbitt) in 2005, but despite its good intentions, it unfortunately didn't work out and the format hasn't been tried again since.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why?

 

 

 

Just because something hasn't worked in the past, that doesn't mean to say that shows in that vein couldn't work now. Having been a seasoned TV viewer for over 30 years, having wanted a career in scriptwriting for 20 of those years and being Black-British, I believe that British TV is crying out for mainstream shows that utilises the talents of Black scriptwriters like myself, Black actors and actresses, Directors and Producers. Programmes that can be all shown universally and enjoyed by ALL minorities - just as shows with predominately white cast and characters are enjoyed by everyone.

 

 

 

 

So, by coming onto this website and reading what I have to say, I thank you. But don't go just yet. We still need to let the powers-that-be in the media know about the problem and show them that the situation has to change.

 

 

 

 

We need to raise awareness of the fact that there is a lack of Black representation on television and the best way, I believe that can be done is by a petition. If no one tells them; they won't know and therefore can't change things.

 

 

 

                    SO PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION  AND PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD!

 

 

 

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There's two ways that you can sign the petition and support this campaign:
 
 
1) Copy, paste and print out this paper edition of the petition, sign it and get everyone
you can to sign it as well and send it (via email or snail mail) to as many TV Companies,
Ad Agencies and Production Companies as you can.
 
 
FAO: TELEVISION BOSSES, ADVERTISING AGENCIES AND PRODUCTION COMPANIES IN THE UK.
 
 
 
We, the undersigned, believe that there is a lack of Black-British representation on British mainstream television and by raising the awareness of this, we would like to request the following:
 
 
  • The quota of Black representation on British television and behind the scenes increased
  • More programmes that predominately feature Black British actors
  • The programmes to be created for mainstream Television and without an ethnic slant
  • More Black actors represented in primetime Advertisements
  • Reality Television shows that will predominately feature Black British Media aspirants
  • More opportunities in TV for aspiring Black scriptwriters, Actors, Directors and Producers
  • Documentaries that explore the vibrancy and culture of Caribbean and African history

 

 

Signed/Name Printed:

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Email address:

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Date:

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Any additional comments:

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2) You can visit http://www.gopetition.com/online/12278.html and fill in the e-petition on this site.

 

3) I've also gone GLOBAL to reach the rest of the world and have uploaded another petition on this site: www.petitiononline.com/aa2h9113/petition.html