However, the first step in seeking to get Caribbean content regularly on British airwaves began in May 2013 with the broadcast of the first series to reach the UK from the Caribbean in many years and the first ever from Barbados.
Distributed by Sankofa Televisual, “Keeping Up With The Joneses” (KUWTJ) is a mockumentary-sitcom about a fictional family in Barbados. KUWTJ features the Jones family who reluctantly become the subjects of a reality show entitled “Life & Times in the Caribbean”. It requires that a camera crew follow the family around and films their every move. Irving (the father) signs the contract to do the show against Angela’s (his wife) wishes. Now, Irving, Angela, Tracy (their 17-year-old daughter) and Nathan (their 10-year-old son) have to coexist while looking good for the cameras, resulting in embarrassing encounters and hilariously awkward TV moments!
The drive to get Caribbean programmes (dramas, films and other general entertainment) is supported by the results of the 2012 British Caribbean Television Survey where 98% of respondents said that they wanted to watch programmes from the Caribbean on TV in Britain.
80% of the respondents also regarded having Caribbean programmes in Britain as important for young people’s development in the British Caribbean community. This is due to concerns that the younger generations growing up in Britain seemed to know less and less about the Caribbean and about their heritage and relations “back home” and whether there is an association with the extent of serious youth violence in Britain which very significantly affects the Black community in general (especially in London) but notably those of Caribbean heritage. The ages of 11 to 15 are crucially important to young people as this is the key period when they are looking to form their own identity and when they need to be able to draw on appropriate cultural reference points. When these reference points do not exist or are not sufficiently visible or mirrored in the media around them, then there is a mismatch which can have negative consequences.
In time, if there is sufficient support from viewers, the British Caribbean community may see its Caribbean heritage reflected in the mirror of British television screens (satellite/cable) more regularly but maybe not on Freeview (for the foreseeable future).
Ron Belgrave is the Director of Sankofa Televisual
© Ron Belgrave/BUFF Enterprises. All rights reserved.