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Brummie star in Black takeover on C4 – ‘I have faced racism my whole career’

Proud Brummie Marverine Cole has spoken of her lifelong struggle against negativity and racism as she prepares to star in a landmark day of television broadcasting this Friday.

Award winning TV and radio star Cole is taking part in a day-long takeover of Channel 4 aiming to show the depth of Black talent and start a national conversation about Black portrayal and representation on our screens and in society.

She will star alongside Sir Trevor McDonald in a special episode of Countdown this Friday afternoon, part of the Black To Front day.

Cole, who has a media and journalism career spanning 30 years as a live TV reporter, producer and news anchor and is a regular on Radio 4 and 5Live, described the day as “seismic”.

Read more: Why we need to keep talking about race in Birmingham

“The Black to Front Day is seismic in terms of diversity in television. You can read the places I work and think ‘Wow she’s done really well’ – but the truth is that behind each and every one of the jobs I’ve done is also the story of the struggle to work in television as a Black British woman with a Brummie accent.

“I had to soften my accent to be accepted on TV and I have a faced negativity and racism from audiences through my whole career because you are doubly visible – you’re Black, but also you’re rarely seen on screen and some people can’t cope with that.”

Cole added: “So what Channel 4 is doing is showing audiences and other broadcasters that there’s plenty of Black talent out there, that a whole day can be filled with shows with excellent presenters, journalists and experts and that talent can also be found further afield than London.”

Cole will be in Dictionary Corner for the Countdown episode on Friday, airing at 2.10pm, with the legendary Sir Trevor McDonald, author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay and former child maths and language prodigy Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon.

Brummie star in Black takeover on C4 - 'I have faced racism my whole career'

It’s one of a series of programmes that day with all-black casts and crew.

The day will include flagship shows The Big Breakfast, Gogglebox and Channel 4 News alongside new commissions including scripted comedy Big Age, topical debate show Unapologetic, and docu-reality show Highlife.

Mel’s Packed Lunch with Spice Girl Melanie Brown and guests, a special episode of Hollyoaks anchored around the black Deveraux family, A Place In the Sun, an episode of Love it or List it with Scarlette & Stuart Douglas and the launch of a second series of How Not To Be Racist are among the highlights.

The Black to Front Project is aligned to and part of #C4Blackandproud – Channel 4’s broader commitment to Black portrayal and representation to create awareness among viewers.

Over the past year the project has galvanised Channel 4 and partners to seek advice, look at the programmes made and how they are made, and take steps to make the industry more representative.

Cole has worked as a live TV reporter, producer and news anchor with ITV Central News, BBC WM and BBC Midlands Today, later as Sky News presenter, anchoring World News and Business Report, and regularly presents radio shows for Radio 4 and 5 Live.

Read more: ‘We’ve moved a step back’ – women reflect on 40 years since Birmingham riots

She is also one of Britain’s leading female beer commentators and an accredited Beer Sommelier, and resident beer columnist for BBC Good Food magazine.

On being on Countdown, she said: “I’m really proud to be on such an iconic show. Working with Sir Trevor McDonald is a complete dream – when I was a little girl watching the news with my Mum in Bartley Green, seeing him on TV was a real inspiration.

“It’s all his fault that I became a journalist. I told him so in the Green Room before we recorded the show. He apologised!”

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