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Real McCoy, The (1991-94)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Real McCoy, The (1991-94)
BBC, tx. 10/5/1991 - 9/2/1996, colour, 35 x 30 min episodes across 5 series
Production CompanyBBC
Writers includePerry Benson, Fraser Downie, Robbie Gee, Kulvinder Ghir, Llewella Gideon, Terry Jervis, Collette Johnson, Meera Syal, Ishmael Thomas, Curtis Walker

Featuring: Perry Benson, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Leo Chester, Felix Dexter, Robbie Gee, Kulvinder Ghir, Llewella Gideon, Judith Jacob, Rudi Lickwood, Eddie Nestor, Marcus Powell, Junior Simpson, Meera Syal, Curtis Walker

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Comedy show featuring various black comedians presenting a black perspective through sketches and songs.

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The Real McCoy (BBC, 1991-96) was the first real showcase for young black comedy on primetime British television. The show also opened the door for multi-cultural comedy in general while by introducing British audiences to Meera Syal and Kulvinder Ghir, it paved the way for their success in Goodness Gracious Me (BBC, 1998-2000).

Playing with notions of race in Britain at a time when the only truly visible black British comedian was Lenny Henry, the show cleared a path for a new generation of black comedians to break into the mainstream. Often confronting stereotypical views of black men and women, the show's writers flipped perceptions on their head to create their punchlines. One sketch showed a black British paratrooper running around the streets of Tottenham lauding the army's equal opportunities policy: "In here we've all got just as much opportunity for getting shot."

This is not to say that The Real McCoy was an overtly political or heavy-handed show. In fact one of the show's highlights came from its brief musical pastiches, mocking popstars like MC Hammer, who finds himself repeatedly reminded by his backing singers that he 'can't touch this' every time he tries to grab a young lady's derrière.

Where much urban programming finds itself shunted around the schedules, and often broadcast late at night, The Real McCoy was given a regular primetime slot. This suggested the BBC was seeing multi-cultural programming as integral to its schedule. The fact that the BBC's flagship ethnic comedy show mixed Black and Asian comedians, however, suggested that there remained doubts that mainstream audiences were yet ready for a half-hour show dedicated purely to one ethnicity. Such anxieties were dispelled following the success of Goodness Gracious Me.

Ali Jaafar

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Video Clips
Complete programme (28:34)
Goodness Gracious Me (1998-2000)
Bhaskar, Sanjeev (1964-)
Etienne, Treva (1965-)
Ghir, Kulvinder
Syal, Meera (1962-)
Black TV Writers