This October, news presenter Charlene White will host an in-depth and sensitive documentary featuring her journey to uncover the roots of her connection to the British Empire.
Part of ITV’s Black History Month programming in October, the film, called Empire’s Child will follow Charlene and members of her immediate family as she tries to figure out why so many Black Britons, despite all their positive contributions, are still fighting to be recognised as British. Charlene’s father and uncle both served in the British armed forces, alongside many other Black service men and women. In a revealing and emotional journey, Charlene travels across Britain and Jamaica to investigate her own heritage and the relationship between the Empire and her family.
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The film is among the growing list of achievements that has seen Charlene’s profile loom ever larger on the UK Media stage. She became the first Black woman to host News At Ten in 2014, and was one of their youngest-ever presenters at the time she joined the news station in 2008.
Always looking for an opportunity to pays it forward, the south London-born broadcaster has been instrumental in establishing the scheme ‘Breaking Into News’, a competition now in its eighth year that welcomes winning applicants into ITV newsrooms nationwide – regardless of age, financial status, level of education or cultural background. The product of Media Trust and ITV, Breaking Into News has been part of White’s professional life since its very first year, and she and ITV London’s Ria Chatterjee have continued to strive to ensure an updated and current large and varied pool of candidates.
On 30 May 2019, White was announced as lead presenter of ITV News London‘s main 6pm programme and in August the following year made her debut as a guest presenter of Loose Women. She returned in early January 2021 to become a regular presenter, following Andrea McLean’s departure from the show. And under her watch earlier this year in March, the all-Black panel won RTS Best Daytime Television Show award. In the 2020 and 2021 editions of the Powerlist, White was listed in the Top 100 of the most influential people in the UK of African/African-Caribbean descent.
Empire’s Child has been described as a moving, surprisingly funny film and ultimately a quest for the truth of Britain in a racially charged world. It faces questions like: can the country ever truly emerge from the shadow of empire? How do we get through this present tumultuous period? And where does the future lie for Charlene’s children and their generation as Black Britons? In an enthusiastic Instagram post, White pays tribute to the family members who joined her in the filming and the journey of self-discovery, including her brother Josh; sister Karina and aunt Eleanor.
The film is part of a special programming package for Black History Month in October and a high-profile awareness raising campaign from ITV Marketing and ITV Creative. Other features include Ashley Banjo: Britain in Black and White. In the summer of 2020 Ashley Banjo was thrust into the centre of the Black Lives Matter movement. The pro equality routine performed by Diversity, one of the most complained about moments in OFCOM’s history, suddenly cast Ashley and his fellow dancers into the political spotlight, and at the centre of a vicious twitter pile on. The lines between entertainment, politics and history blurred. A year on from that moment and having won a BAFTA as a recognition of the importance of it, Ashley is going on a journey into his own past and also a journey of discovery into British history.
Will.i.am: The Blackprint; is a one-hour documentary for ITV that follows global superstar will.i.am’s personal and timely exploration of what it means to be Black and British, in the country he calls his second home.
Sorry, I Didn’t Know: Jimmy Akingbola will return to host the new series which will air in October on ITV and ITV Hub.
Chizzy Akudolu and Judi Love will also be back as the team leaders presiding over the guests as they battle it out over four rounds, unveiling interesting Black history facts along the way.
Empire’s Child will air in October 2021.
This article was written by Katrina Marshall