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BFI Discovers the First Interracial TV Kiss (And It’s No Longer ‘Star Trek’)

BFI Discovers the First Interracial TV Kiss (And It's No Longer 'Star Trek')

The BFI has just uncovered what is presumed to be the first kiss between a black woman and white man on national television, a scene from a TV drama entitled “You in Your Small Corner.” First broadcast on ITV in June 1962, it has just been discovered in the BFI National Archive.

READ MORE: Anthony Asquith’s ‘Shooting Stars’ Selected as BFI London Film Festival Archive Gala

The revival of Lloyd Reckord and Elizabeth MacLennan’s kiss is a timely one in light of BFI’s LOVE season, and subsequently, the infamous scene will be seen by audiences at the ongoing event. Heather Stewart, Creative Director of BFI, said in a statement that “This ground-breaking TV play is such an important re-discovery. A document of British social history, it demonstrates the role of progressive television drama as a reflection of our society and underlines the vital work of the BFI National Archive as the guardian of our national memory. 50 years on, diverse on-screen representation is still an urgent issue and we must continue as an industry to effect much-needed change.”

“You in Your Small Corner” premiered as a live broadcast as ITV’s Granada Play of the Week on June 5, 1962. The series followed a young man from Jamaica to Brixton to Cambridge, where he pursues an undergraduate degree and eventually finds love. The episode, according to a BFI release, was “a sophisticated dissection of the subtleties and difficulties which affect the couple across race and class lines.”

As “Small Corner” now represents the earliest onscreen interracial kiss on television, other milestones need to be adjusted. The kiss between Joan Hooley and John White from an episode of the British soap opera “Emergency Ward 10” in 1964 is still the first interracial kiss in an ongoing series, while the famous kiss between Lieutenant Uhura and Captain James T. Kirk in an episode of “Star Trek” from 1968 is still the first interracial kiss on American television. 

The “Small Corner” clip will screen during the upcoming BFI panel on “Race and Romance on TV,” which will include contributions from actors Art Malik and Adrian Lester; director Gurinder Chadha; BBC’s Head of Drama England, Hilary Salmon; and BBC’s Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Tunde Ogungbesan. The event will be hosted by broadcaster Samira Ahmed on Tuesday, November 24, at BFI Southbank, London. More details are available here

READ MORE: BFI Offers 600 Romantic Films This Autumn Through ‘Films to Fall in Love With, Film to Break Your Heart’ Series

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