Hot on the heels of the success of the revitalised Upstairs, Downstairs and the ITV ratings hit, Downton Abbey, BBC Drama has announced that it is pinning its future hopes on a new historical drama/comedy - Black Man at Oxford.
Head of Light Entertainment, Maggie Hustings, speaking at a presentation to reviewers and selected media in central London said that she was delighted to bring this story to the small screen. She said – “we’ve been hunting around for a story like this for years..it hits all the demographic bases for Sunday night viewing – the class conflict, pre-war history and blatant token racism...we couldn’t be happier that Kenneth Branagh has also decided to soot up for the leading role.”
The six part series centres on Oxford’s first black student, Christian Cole, who studied Classics at University College in 1873. Playing a selection of clips from the series to the assembled journalists, the test audience peeled with laughter at Branagh dressed in Zulu garb passed out in the quad after first tasting English beer. The audience was equally delighted in the humour filled scene of Branagh being chased from a local shop when a white female assistant mistakes his penis for a pouch of tobacco.
Producers had the full co-operation of the University, who feel this could be just the thing to undo recent headlines for under-representation of ethnic minorities. College President, Nigel Vickers, says, “I think people really have to understand that Oxford has changed in so many ways....we welcome applications from all ethnic minorities. However, common-sense dictates that we still draw the line at the Irish.”