Bulletproof: Two Black brilliant lead roles


When TV and film producers want to be seen as 'multicultural',  they often place a Black character in the mix, usually as the most sympathetic character. Actors such as Idris Elba, Thande Newton, Adrian Lester, and Colin Salmon have all played that role to great acclaim.

But Sky One of gone one better. The two lead protagonists are two Black men - two cops - fighting the bad guys. It is a typical best buddy cop drama in which you buy into their relationship, as well as the dramatic crime fighting. Think of ‘Miami Vice’, ‘The Sweeney’, or ‘Lethal Weapon’, and you get the picture.

The dramatic difference is that the prism in which this friendship is explored is wholly through a Black British cultural lens. And it’s done brilliantly. They explore the relationships with their partners - one is happily married, the other has big relationship problems, one has a white partner, the other has a Black wife.

One of the many things I like about this drama is that it is a multi-faceted, multicultural world, but doesn’t need to explicitly talk  about race. The actors rarely refer to their race. As for the audience, it is probably the first buddy drama in which the predominantly white audience will see what Black friendship looks like. And whilst some may say, ‘well, isn’t that just friendship? But that’s the point, we rarely, if ever see this type of friendship between two Black characters on TV. Interestingly, it is seeing this normality that binds us closer together, rather than seeing Black people as either the exotic or villainess 'other',  much like when the Muslim woman, Nadiya Hussain won ‘Britain’s Bake off’.

Lastly and selfishly, for Black or mixed heritage families we can sit at home on the sofa with our children and watch TV in which not one but two Black men are swashbuckling, fast car driving, criminal catching, role models.

Well done Sky, and well done Ashley Walters and Noel Clarke.

Simon Woolley