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Archives unearth TV's first inter-racial kiss

Published 20/11/2015

William Shatner's Captain Kirk had a famous screen smooch with Lt Uhura, played by Nichelle Nicols, in 1968
William Shatner's Captain Kirk had a famous screen smooch with Lt Uhura, played by Nichelle Nicols, in 1968

Footage of what is believed to be the earliest known inter-racial kiss on British television has been unearthed in the BFI's archive, 53 years after it aired.

You in Your Small Corner was shown on ITV in June 1962 as a Granada play of the week and has not been seen since, the BFI said.

The drama was rediscovered by a researcher ahead of an discussion event called Race And Romance In Television and will be shown in full at a special screening next month.

It pre-dates an inter-racial kisses on Emergency Ward 10 in 1964 and the famous clinch between Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura, played by William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols, in a Star Trek episode in 1968.

You in Your Small Corner follows a young man's arrival from Jamaica to Brixton, south London, where he is staying with his mother before going up to Cambridge to study for an undergraduate degree. He meets a young woman on the rebound and they become lovers.

It was an adaptation of a play by Jamaican-born Barry Reckord, which had originally been staged at the Royal Court, and saw an on-screen kiss between actors Lloyd Reckord, the playwright's brother, and Elizabeth MacLennan.

Heather Stewart, creative director of the BFI, said: " This ground-breaking TV play is such an important rediscovery. 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.

"Fifty years on, diverse on-screen representation is still an urgent issue and we must continue as an industry to effect much-needed change."

A screening of the drama will take place at BFI Southbank on Sunday December 13.

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