Black History Month has been marked in the UK for more than 30 years. It takes place during the month of October. It is held to highlight and celebrate the achievements and contributions of the black community in the UK. My own family stems from Black roots originating from Africa, Sierra Leone to be exact. My African Great Grandfather settling in the UK 1908, nearly 110 years ago. For my own contribution to Black History Month a blog post on just a hand full of the culturally and historically important Black Britain’s I’ve photographed over the years.
Craig Charles (born 11 July 1964) is a British actor, comedian, author, poet, television presenter and DJ. He is best known for playing Dave Lister in the science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf and Lloyd Mullaney in the soap opera Coronation Street, as a funk and soul DJ on BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 2, and as the presenter of the gladiator-style game show Robot Wars from 1998 to 2004.
The Portrait Sitting took place back in 2014 for my ‘Northerners Photography Exhibition‘. Charles first appeared on television as a performance poet, which led to minor presenting roles. After finding fame in Red Dwarf, he regularly featured on national television with celebrity appearances on many popular shows while he continued to host a wide variety of programmes.
Charles is also known for narrating the comedy endurance show Takeshi’s Castle. From 2017, he has hosted The Gadget Show for Channel 5. His acting credits include playing inmate Eugene Buffy in the ITV drama The Governor, and leading roles in the British films Fated and Clubbing to Death. He has toured the UK extensively as a stand-up comedian.
Charles has hosted The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show on BBC radio since 2002, and performs DJ sets at numerous clubs and festivals, nationally and internationally. In September 2015, he left Coronation Street after ten years, to film new episodes of Red Dwarf.
Paul Barber is an English Actor from Liverpool, with a career spanning more than 30 years. Barber has worked extensively in British TV, such as in To the Manor Born (1979) as a Jamaican steel band musician, Minder (1980) as Willie Reynolds in episode Don’t Tell Them Willie Boy Was Here, Only Fools and Horses (1981–2003), Boys from the Blackstuff (1982), Malcolm in The Front Line, and Cracker and played Greg Salter in Brookside (1994).
He is best known for his role in Only Fools and Horses playing Denzil. Barber had small roles in the big-screen version of Porridge(1979) and The Long Good Friday(1980). In 1991, he plays a football coach in the ‘Screen One’ television play, Alive and Kicking. However Barber’s best known role was playing one of the stripping steelworkers in the popular 1997 film The Full Monty (1997) set in Sheffield. He reunited with Full Monty co-star Robert Carlyle and Samuel L Jacksonin the Liverpool-based crime film The 51st State (2001). The Portrait was again taken for my ‘Northerners Photography Exhibition‘.
Back in 2016, I had to honour to photograph British Victoria Cross recipient Johnson Beharry VC. On 1 May 2004, Beharry was driving a Warrior tracked armoured vehicle that had been called to the assistance of a foot patrol caught in a series of ambushes. The Warrior was hit by multiple rocket-propelled grenades, causing damage and resulting in the loss of radio communications. The platoon commander, the vehicle’s gunner and a number of other soldiers in the vehicle were injured. Due to damage to his periscope optics, Pte. Beharry was forced to open his hatch to steer his vehicle, exposing his face and head to withering small arms fire. Beharry drove the crippled Warrior through the ambush, taking his own crew and leading five other Warriors to safety. He then extracted his wounded comrades from the vehicle, all the time exposed to further enemy fire. He was cited on this occasion for “valour of the highest order”.