David Harewood Will Explore The History Of Blackface Minstrelsy In A New BBC Documentary

The actor and presenter examines its origins, in the US in the early 19th century, and how it crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Britain.

The BBC Two documentary looks at the “entertainment as a delivery system for racist tropes”, which “became the most popular form of entertainment of the Victorian era, taking the music of enslaved people and turning it toxic,” the broadcaster said.

In Blackface With David Harewood, the star “sets out to understand how it shaped ideas of blackness in popular culture and why it endured so long.”

The broadcaster announced the documentary as part of a commitment, it said, to “increase its resources for arts and music”.

Other programmes include Mary Beard On Forbidden Art, a two-part BBC Two documentary this spring.

It will examine how artists across the centuries have engaged with subjects which have been considered forbidden.

At the beginning of April, the BBC will hand over its Local Radio network to local arts organisations to showcase content and performances.

Listeners will go behind-the-scenes as cultural institutions prepare to reopen after lockdown forced their closure.

All 39 local stations in England will be at museums, theatres, performance venues and galleries in their area throughout Monday April 12.

The places featured include the Museum Of Liverpool, Opera North in Leeds, The Crucible in Sheffield and The National Space Centre in Leicester.

A “landmark”  BBC Two series will tell the story of 1,000 years of British creativity through seminal cultural works from across centuries, in The Making Of Us: A History Of British Creativity.

Chief content officer Charlotte Moore said: “The BBC has always prided itself on having a world-class arts and music offer.

“The BBC wants to build on that to expand the reach of arts and music programming and deliver even more unique, high-impact content for the public.”

Other programmes include a documentary about the children at the Royal Ballet School in Richmond directed by BalletBoyz and Paloma Faith: As I Am, following the singer’s “emotional journey as she balances a make-or-break tour with being a mum”.

The BBC said it will double investment in arts and music on BBC Two over the next two years and commit to up to eight major arts and music boxset series for BBC iPlayer each year, while BBC Four becomes “the home of arts and music performance”.

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