Jimmy Akingbola, star of NOW TV’s Bel-Air, shares his truth about growing up in the UK care system in a moving new ITV documentary called Handle with Care: Jimmy Akingbola.
Jimmy Akingbola has come a long way since acting in Holby City. Today the 44-year-old British-Nigerian actor is starring as Geoffrey in Bel-Air, a popular remake of the Will Smith-led Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He may have moved to sunny LA, but it appears his experience of growing up in the UK care system remains front of mind and he reveals all in a new ITV documentary called Handle with Care: Jimmy Akingbola airing on ITV later this autumn.
Speaking about the upcoming doc on This Morning, Akingbola said: “I always wanted to tell an inspiring care story because I just feel like the narrative over the years of me growing up has always been negative. There are some really difficult cases out there. I’m not saying that’s not happened, but it’s not the full story. So, I just thought, where are the stories of my role models.”
He continued: “The care system in the UK does need more support and money. And we discuss that in the doc.”
The focus on this topic is timely as the number of children in care has risen by a massive 28% in the past decade, to almost half a million. On top of this, more than 40% of the children in Britain waiting to be adopted are Black.
It’s a sad fact that Black foster families are rare compared to their white counterparts, often resulting in white foster parents raising children from other ethnicities. Jimmy Akingbola has first-hand experience of this, which has led him to explore this further in this new documentary.
Handle with Care: Jimmy Akingbola – the plot
Handle with Care takes a deep dive into Akingbola’s care story in England. It explores how his care journey begins at the tender age of two, when he was taken from his Nigerian family to be fostered by a white British family.
From there, his foster family raised Akingbola as if he was one of their own, alongside their own birth children. In the documentary, Akingbola interviews the foster family that raised him. He also meets fellow actor Lenny James and retired Olympic athlete Kriss Akabusi. Both of these celebrities share their own personal experiences of foster, adopted care, and children’s homes.
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Handle with Care also explores the question on whether a loving family, no matter their ethnicity, always prioritises racial or cultural differences?
Handle with Care: Jimmy Akingbola promises to be a moving watch; exploring themes of identity, abandonment, the importance of role models and cultural connection. At its heart, it ponders the question on whether: “a loving family, no matter their ethnicity, is always more important than racial or cultural differences?”
Handle with Care: Jimmy Akingbola is set to air in November 2022 on ITV.
Written by Maxine Harrison