A brand new sitcom featuring a British Nigerian family is generating loads of excitement in Black communities in the UK.
Meet the Adebanjos is an independently-funded 8-part series about a family living in Peckham, South London. It follows the life of a first generation Nigerian couple and their British-born children, along with their extended family. Dad struggles to instil traditional African values in his British household. The kids think he’s old fashioned and, inevitably, this leads to a culture clash – African traditional values versus British culture. The aim of it is to highlight the challenges and “multi-generational and multi-cultural family dynamics” that traditional African parents have to cope with in raising British-born children. The show was filmed in a live studio set in London.
It was created and produced by South London-based MTA Productions Ltd in collaboration with Fresh Media Productions. Two 26 year old Brits, Andrew Osayemi, a former trader, and Debra Odutuyo, a TV producer are the brains behind the venture.
Debra Odutuyo, the creator of Meet the Adebanjos, is of Nigerian parentage. She said she grew up in a loving family full of fun and laughs and, as a producer, often wondered why this was not represented on UK TV. She wanted to do a sitcom which promoted family values, allowed people to laugh and gave them an insight into her British African culture. She spent a few years developing the concept and pitching it to major TV Networks but without success.
“For the past five years I have been working on this project and trying to sell the concept of the sitcom to mainstream broadcasters in the UK,” says Odutuyo. “After countless rejections, I resolved not to give up on my dream by spending the last two years doing everything I possibly could do to raise money to film eight episodes. I eventually raised enough money from private investors to produce a broadcast quality show.”
Her partner, executive producer, Andrew Osayemi agreed. “Trying to break into the mainstream UK TV industry is very tough and it’s almost like an old boys clubs. The major networks either commission their own material or commission material production companies. Breaking into that inner circle is very difficult and takes a long time.”
Convinced they had a hit show on their hands, Odutuyo and Osayemi opted to go it alone. They created their own production company, raised the needed funds themselves and decided to engage directly with their audience by distributing it through the internet and social media, including Facebook, YouTube and their website http://www.MeetTheAdebanjos.com A trailer of the show was leaked on YouTube before the official launch. Within one week it had clocked 20,000 views and thousands of comments.
After a third episode of the show is streamed online for free, the rest of the season will be available by subscription only and as a DVD boxset.
Odutuyo says the response to the show has been amazing. “This just goes to show what can be achieved if you dare to be different and think outside the box. MTA Productions have lots more productions that we are working on and similar to Meet The Adebanjos. It will change the game for online TV viewing. My goal is to be the Tyler Perry of the UK! It’s time to place quality independent British content firmly on the map of UK television.”
Odutuyo and Osayemi are urging fans and supporters to get behind the movement and spread the word about Meet the Adebanjos far and wide. “The more views the show gets, the more commercial advertisers will be attracted to invest in advertising in quality independent online sitcoms. Hopefully this is just what the UK’s TV establishment needs to sit up and pay attention,” said Odutuyo.
They’ve forced the BBC to sit up and take notice. One month after they launched their new sitcom online, generating lots of media buzz and support from viewers who have been watching the show since it was first aired, the BBC arranged to meet the duo to discuss picking Meet the Adebanjos for its second season. The meeting was scheduled for 1st August.
Speaking to the UK’s Voice newspaper, executive producer, Andrew Osayemi said: “Together with our co-production partners Fresh Media Productions we set out from the start to be different and to provide quality Black British content which is currently lacking … “Our goal is to create an industry where more Black British production can be made independently of mainstream backing and by buying the DVD that’s what you will help create”
Osayemi and Odutuyo, meanwhile, are asking their many fans to visit www.meetheadebanjos.com and email feedback and their thoughts about the show to firstname.lastname@example.org You can also check them out on Facebook.