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Britain in a Box, Series 6 Episode 2 of 3

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 11 May 2013

Paul Jackson continues with the series that does much more than celebrating innovative television programmes - it uses them as a window on a particular period in our cultural and social history.

In the spotlight today is Channel 4's longest running sit com, Desmond's - the OTHER Peckham based comedy which featured Norman Beaton as Desmond, the owner of a West Indian Barber shop and Carmen Munroe who played his wife, Shirley. The 71 episode series first aired on Channel 4 in 1989 and finished in 1994 upon the untimely early death of its star character, 'Desmond', played by Norman Beaton.

Paul speaks to the show's creator, Trix Worrell, who got the idea for setting a comedy in a Peckham West Indian Barber's shop whilst he was on a bus travelling through Peckham on the way to meet comedy producer, Humphrey Barclay.

Both of them share their memories of the creation of Desmond's with Paul Jackson, along with the series' first producer, Charlie Hanson and script editor Paulette Randall. Ram John Holder, one of the show's stars, 'Porkpie' tells Paul how accurately the sit com portrayed the West Indian community and how it was a welcome change to be in a black sit com which was both funny and enjoyed by all sections of the audience.

The then commissioner for Channel 4, Farrukh Dhondy, gives his thoughts on the success of Desmond's and contributors question how much further forward British television is today in its commission of comedies featuring members from the UK's diverse communities.

Producer: Sarah Taylor.


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