Black to Front: who is taking part, how to watch, and Channel 4 programmes involved - including Big Breakfast

Black to Front was announced back in August of 2020, and was originally called Black Takeover Day

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In an effort to “amplify the conversations around representation and diversity in the industry”, Channel 4 will be disrupting its regular schedule of programming to broadcast 24 hours of TV showcasing Black talent on and off the screen under the title Black to Front.

Black to Front will feature “major new commissions” and will reimagine some of Channel 4’s biggest shows to focus on Black talent and step up Black representation in front of and behind the camera.

This is what you need to know.

What is Black to Front?

Channel 4 says that Black to Front “aims to amplify Black talent, stories, and voices by bringing them to the forefront on screen and off screen”.

For a whole 24 hours, Channel 4 will air Black to Front, which will see a mix of classic Channel 4 programmes reimagined with Black talent and brand new shows from Black writers, producers and performers.

Black to Front was first announced in August 2020, as “Black Takeover Day”, and then renamed as Black to Front in November.

It has been planned over the course of a year, and is part of Channel 4’s ongoing commitment to improve Black representation on and off screen.

Black to Front was conceived by commissioning editors Vivienne Molokwu and Shaminder Nahal, and will be led by Deputy Director of Programmes Kelly Webb-Lamb, and Head of Creative Diversity Babita Bahal and Director of Commissioning Operations, Emma Hardy also part of the core team.

What shows will be on and who is involved?

Channel 4 says that it will be broadcasting some of the channel’s biggest flagship shows, all with Black talent and contributors at the forefront.

Channel 4’s longest running show, Countdown, will be hosted by journalist and broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald, who will be joined by poet and playwright Lemn Sissay OBE and maths prodigy Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE. Marverine Cole will also join Lemn in the Dictionary Corner as a special guest.

An hour long special episode of the longtime running soap Hollyoaks will also air, written, directed and performed by Black talent. Morning programme The Big Breakfast will be revived for the first time since 2002 with comedian Mo Gilligan, presenter AJ Odudu and original newsreader Phil Gayle.

Gilligan said:  "Like so many of us, I loved The Big Breakfast and I am so grateful to be asked to host this special event, particularly as part of such a hugely thrilling and history making day for British television!"

Daytime show Steph’s Packed Lunch will be reimagined as Mel B’s Packed Lunch, with the former Spice Girl making her live presenting debut. She will be joined by Steph’s Packed Lunch regular and football icon Chris Kamara, and resident chef Freddy Forster.

Mel B said: “It’s going to be a lot of fun and I can’t wait to spice up lunchtime television. I’m also really proud to be part of Channel 4’s Black to Front project, that’s something to really celebrate.”

Special episodes of A Place in the Sun and Love It or List It will also feature during Black to Front.

In the 10pm slot Channel 4 announced the commission of the first Black British premium reality series in new four-parter Highlife.

Channel 4 says: “Highlife follows the lives and loves of a group of ambitious, glamourous young Nigerian Brits all chasing their own idea of success.

“Showcasing a community where high family expectations often impact career choices, relationships and even friendship groups the series is an aspirational and authentic portrayal of British life through a totally distinct but utterly relatable lens.”

Also included in the Black to Front programming is Big Age, a brand new comedy pilot, and late-night topical discussion programme Unapologetic.

When is Black to Front on and how can I watch?

Black to Front will take place on Channel 4 on Friday 10 September.

The Black to Front broadcasting will last for 24 hours, and you can watch it on Channel 4.

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