Voices of contention and BBC programming
in Paving the empire road
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This chapter begins with an examination of the 1960s, and looks at heightened concerns about urban unrest following the riots at Notting Hill and in Nottingham. Each event created further concerns for White Britons, who nervously studied the increasing racial tensions on city streets, yet these events encouraged West Indians to speak out even more about programming issues and hiring practices within the BBC. Soon after, the Second Coloured Conference at Broadcasting House allowed management to meet with African-Caribbean community leaders about planned television programmes and their potential impact. Critical analyses of racially themed BBC television programming in the 1960s and 1970s includes Till Death Us Do Part (BBC, 1965–68, 1972–75), Rainbow City (BBC, 1967) and the iconic Empire Road (BBC, 1978–79), one of the first BBC ‘soaps’ to feature a first- and second-generation Black British family attempting to navigate life in an English urban setting. The Community Relations Commission was important in providing a voice for West Indians, included recruitment efforts at the BBC for African-Caribbean employees, much to the dismay of the dominant press.

Paving the empire road

BBC television and Black Britons

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