As a black British woman breaking into the industry, I appreciate every opportunity that comes my way, and I also think it’s important to celebrate those that came before me and paved the way.
I’ve decided to shine a spotlight on some of the incredible black women who I watched regularly on the TV, were a major part of my childhood and also some women who were game changers and made a lot of firsts on British television.
Moira Clare Ruby Stuart OBE
Moira was iconic! Famous for her red blazer and confident tone, Moira was the first black woman that I saw on the television.
I remember my Nanny always used to get excited when Moira came on BBC news and would call out to us to “Come and see Moira on the TV” with her soft and sweet Guyanese accent.
Moira is known to many as the first African-Caribbean female newsreader to appear on British television in 1981.
Moira Stuart’s career in radio and television spans more than two decades. She started her BBC career as a production assistant in Radio’s Talks and Documentaries department in the 1970s, before moving on to become a BBC Radio 4 announcer and a newsreader/programme presenter.
Moira is currently the newsreader for The Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2.
Barbara Blake Hannah
Before writing this post I shared some of my tributes to these amazing women on Instagram and that is where I was informed and corrected by DJ smooth Fuego, that Moira Stuart and Trevor McDonald weren’t the first black broadcasters to appear on British television, but it was, in fact, Barbara Blake Hannah.
This was confirmed and brought to our attention by Miss Hannah herself in a response article in the Guardian “It wasn’t Trevor or Moira – I was the first black British TV presenter”.
In this article Barbara explained, “Not taking anything away from my excellent colleagues, I must put history right and state that in 1968 I made headlines in British newspapers when I was appointed one of three on-camera reporter/interviewers on Thames-TV’s daily evening show, Today with Eamonn Andrews.”
Unfortunately, racism was still at an all-time high in the UK and after nine months, Barbara’s contract was terminated as she was informed that the producers were under pressure from viewers who called in daily to say, “Get that n****r off our screens.”
I’m thankful that British television has changed and become so much more inclusive in the last 50 years. Of course, we’re still trying to provoke change and make the media more diverse but if it wasn’t for Barbara’s fight for journalism and what she loves a lot of us wouldn’t have been able to make these steps in the media today!
Floella Benjamin, Baroness Benjamin, OBE
Now those of you over 20 will probably remember Floella from your childhood!
She was and still is a key figure in children’s television and has been shining her black girl magic since the 70s.
Floella is a Trinidadian-British actress, author, television presenter, singer, businesswoman and politician. She is known as the presenter of children’s programmes such as Play School, Play Away and Fast Forward.
Growing up I had a CBBC children’s book which featured pictures of all of the presenters over the years and I remember her face standing out and her infectious smile being such a big part of my childhood.
I’m so happy to have had such an early influence of beautiful black representation on the television.
Josie was definitely a game changer!
Another amazingly familiar face throughout my childhood, Josie is a Welsh television presenter and painter from Newport, Wales. In the early 1990s, she presented on Children’s BBC and on SMart as well as BBC’s Top of the Pops, in 1999 Josie became the youngest British woman to host her own chat show on Channel 5, titled Josie!
I mean, I hope to host my own TV show in the not too distant future this is absolute goals!
Diane Louise Jordan
Look at this face… definitely a face you can trust lol
Growing up we all wanted that Blue Peter badge… I had a few badges from Brownies for doing arts and craft, I secured my prefect badge in year 6… but damn it never a Blue Peter badge.
Well Diane definitely secured herself the ultimate Blue Peter badge. She was the first black presenter of the children’s television programme Blue Peter, being involved in the programme from 25 January 1990 until 26 February 1996, making her its fourth longest-serving female presenter (after Konnie Huq, Valerie Singleton and Lesley Judd).
Diane is a Christian, and can currently be seen presenting BBC One’s religious programme, Songs of Praise.
If you’re a fan of Celebrity MasterChef you might remember Angellica, she won last year and is back on the scene.
Angellica’s big break came in 2000 when she became the main anchor on CBBC and then hosted a wide variety of TV shows, from EastEnders Xtra, The CBBC Saturday show and is best-known for presenting on The One Show.
Honestly her CV is packed and she has clearly always been destined for great things… but unfortunately, she hit a speed bump in 2007 after posing in a black lace bra, knickers and stockings in a raunchy shoot for FHM, which almost had her reprimanded by the BBC as parents were outraged that she “wasn’t setting a good examples for young girls”
Clearly, this was the early naughties, before some of the current female singers started stripping down and singing about sex…. but oh wait weren’t the spice girls… NEVERMIND! lol
Anyway, she is definitely a go-getter and an inspiration to many.
Let’s talk about the lovely Margherita Taylor.
I’ve bumped into her a few times in the Global building (as she works on Heart FM) she’s gorgeous and absolutely lovely. I can not stress this enough lol. The last time I bumped into her she offered “if you ever want to catch up over a coffee I’m here”. I mean seriously I need to take her up on this offer as she’s a bloody legend and I’m sure I’ll get some gems from her!
Margherita first found fame in 1993 when Birmingham based radio station BRMB offered her a slot as a DJ as part of a talent contest. She presented a weekend overnight show, but soon caught the attention of bosses at Capital London, and in 1994, was appointed presenter of weekend breakfast on the station, and provided cover for Capital’s other presenters.
Spending almost two decades at Capital FM and during her time there also began working at Capital’s sister station Classic FM, where she has been hosting Smooth Classics for 10 years and has most recently moved over to Heart FM.
Margherita began her TV career by hosting Top of The Pops for the BBC and became one of the original presenters of the Channel 4 daytime teen-aimed show, T4, alongside Dermot O’Leary and later Vernon Kay in 1999.
She has acted as a contributor for Good Morning Britain, Lorraine, Countryfile, and This Morning on ITV, presenting competitions.
June Konadu Sarpong MBE
I don’t care what anyone says, June Sarpong is an absolute LEGEND!
She began her media career with Kiss 100 and later became an MTV UK and Ireland presenter and one of the female faces of Channel 4’s daytime teen-aimed strand T4.
I mean Goals! I feel like June was all over my TV growing up and the facts don’t lie… she WAS! lol
Sarpong has presented other series, including Your Face or Mine?, a game show co-hosted with Jimmy Carr for E4; Dirty Laundry, an urban talk-show that was an original idea of Sarpong’s; Playing It Straight, a dating game-show filmed in Mexico for Channel 4, and Sarpong has presented the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party, the Party In The Park and the MOBO Awards.
She was such an influencer (before social media stats lol) which lead to her being appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2007 New Year Honours for services to broadcasting and to charity.
I just love her!
I bumped into Trisha a few years back, when I was out filming with Link Up TV. It was such a lovely moment, she was out for a run, saw us filming and stopped watched me and then commented on my skills.
I literally burst into a fangirl… I swear I don’t usually do that but IT WAS TRISHA!!!
Trisha Goddard is best known for her morning talk shows, Trisha, which was broadcast on a mid-morning slot on ITV before later being moved to Channel 5.
Trisha had a very interesting start.
She started her early career as an air stewardess which led to travel writing for magazines and then, after settling in Australia in the mid-1980s, a new career in television. She worked there as a television presenter and also as a host of the children’s program Play School. In 1998 after returning to the United Kingdom Goddard became the host of an ITV flagship daytime chat show, the BAFTA-winning Trisha.
Goddard has been based in the United States since 2010, when she started working with Maury Povich on his TV series Maury as a “conflict resolution expert.” She hosted her own talk show, also named Trisha, in US first-run syndication from 2012 to 2014.
I love that she made those International moves! Sometimes it’s got to be done!
It’s so refreshing to see that one of the leading faces on the news is a black British woman. Charlene primarily presents ITV News London and was the youngest journalist of ITV News.
Charlene first started her career at the BBC as a presenter and senior broadcast journalist at BBC Look East, Radio 5 Live Morning Reports, BBC Three 60 Seconds and BBC News. She also had her own late-night talk show on BBC London 94.9.
In 2002 she joined Radio 1 Newsbeat and its sister station BBC Radio 1Xtra as a reporter and later teamed up with DJ G Money as a presenter on 1Xtra’s 2-hour news, magazine and documentary programme in 2005.
In 2008, she joined ITN, as a newscaster for the ITV News at 5:30 on ITV. Additionally, she would present three short opts which air as part of GMTV (later Daybreak) for ITV News London on ITV London.
On 9 April 2014, White became the first black woman to present ITV News at Ten and occasionally co-presented this until October 2015.
What I love about all of these women and their stories, is the fact that I can see myself in all of them.
They’ve all entered the industry in different ways, but when it’s your time, IT’S YOUR TIME! They worked hard, became incredible game changers and paved the wave for so many young presenters, journalists and broadcasters.
I hope this post inspires you, encourages you and gives you the determination to stay on your journey!
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