Renowned broadcaster Moira Stuart presents an authoritative and intellectual insight into the disingenuous British phenomenon of William Wilberforce deification.
Most importantly Moira with the help of renowned historian, Verene Shepherd, reminds us of the heroic deeds of African freedom fighters such as Samuel Sharpe whose strategic uprising forced the British to pass legislation
Following the BBC's atrocious Radio 4 Wilberfest broadcast by Melvyn Bragg last month, In Search of Wilberforce is a necessary and well researched programme, revealing what the BBC is capable of achieving when it affords the resources at its disposal to those most capable of delivering quality programming dealing with African British affairs. Whether the BBC will maintain this level of quality when the spotlight and impetus is no longer on it remains to be seen but those behind this production have certainly raised the bar and this at least needs to be acknowledged.
However there is a caveat to this appraisal.
We have to question the motivation of the BBC in scheduling a programme of this calibre on BBC Two against Comic Relief night on BBC One? This sends a clear message that the history of enslavement, resistance and abolition is not important when presented by an African face. When the BBC attempted to resurrect the career of the disgraced anti-African football commentator, Ron Atkinson, it broadcast its redundant and reputation salvaging "What Ron Said" programme on BBC One during prime time.
So why, rather than choosing to educate the British public about the history of one of the nation’s 'favourite sons' this Friday at 9pm on BBC One, has the BBC chosen to instead announce the 'Fame Academy winner'?
We find it hard to believe that a programme about the Shoah would be scheduled against comic relief for fear of losing an opportunity to educate those ignorant about the horrors of holocaust. So why mock the African community by scheduling this informative documentary at a time which guarantees that most of Britain’s ethnic majority audience, who are most in need of understanding the history of Wilberforce and the Maafa will instead be tuned into programming that offers laughter and entertainment to elicit pity for impoverished people in Africa.
Ironically, by ensuring that this programme is scheduled for a time when a large percentage of its audience will be tuned into Comic Relief, they have effectively guaranteed justification for claiming that programmes of this calibre simply do not draw in the viewers. If the BBC is truly sincere about ensuring this documentary gets the attention it deserves, it will rectify this problem by repeating the programme within the coming weeks on BBC One and scheduled at a time likely to reach most viewers.