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Noel Clarke: Bulletproof has helped normalise black middle class families on TV

The actor returns in the Sky One police thriller this month.

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Ashley Walters and Noel Clarke (Ian West/PA)

Ashley Walters and Noel Clarke (Ian West/PA)

Ashley Walters and Noel Clarke (Ian West/PA)

Bulletproof star Noel Clarke says the police drama has helped normalise black middle class families on television.

Clarke, 45, and his co-star Ashley Walters, 38, will reprise their roles as London duo Aaron Bishop and Ronnie Pike in the third instalment, set in South Africa, which begins on Sky One and Now TV later this month.

It will see the pair head for Cape Town for a much-deserved holiday before they find themselves caught up in the frightening kidnap of a young girl.

Clarke, known for starring in the Hood film series and as a companion in Doctor Who, said the series was among the few to show black men with positive family backgrounds.

He said: “It was important to bring that to the screen because we don’t see that with people who look like us generally. You don’t necessarily always see that.

“And I’m not one of those people who are just going to like, ‘Argh, bring race into everything’ but there isn’t many shows where you see two people that look like us that are both or all completely positive.

“That are married people that look like them and it’s a positive family and nobody’s cheating and no-one’s beating someone up and nobody’s somebody’s baby mama and all that kind of stuff.”

Clarke, who created the series alongside former So Solid Crew rapper Walters, said it was important to both of them that they showed “these two guys could love each other”.

He added: “We wanted to show nah, you can be two men and you can love each other and you can say that and it’s OK, and you can hug and you can be there for each other.

“I think it says a lot about people’s mental health. It says a lot about just the way society is and the way we wanted these characters to show the other side of how we are generally perceived, so that for me was really important.”

Clarke has spoken of how Bulletproof stands out among other police thrillers because of its two black co-leads playing parts that are not race specific.

He said the programme showed that the issue of on-screen representation did not have to become a “thing” if it was handled with care.

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Noel Clarke (Matt Crossick/PA)

Noel Clarke (Matt Crossick/PA)

PA

Noel Clarke (Matt Crossick/PA)

“We’ve normalised Aaron Bishop and Ronnie Pike on screen and nobody now cares where they’re from and who they are,” he said.

“They’re just those characters and it’s just that show.

“And that’s the kind of representation and that’s the kind of thing that needs to happen moving forward. It doesn’t have to be a thing.

“Like, an Asian character doesn’t need to be called Dr Singh and you see their parents. It doesn’t have to be that.

“They can be called John Smith as well and be a doctor and their cousin be a doctor – and it’s not a thing.

“And I think Bulletproof is a show that has helped normalise a black middle class family and us as a whole on screen.”

Bulletproof: South Africa launches on January 20 at 9pm on Sky One.

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