Dreaming Whilst Black review: wry comedy about a struggling filmmaker

“Dreaming Whilst Black”, a new BBC comedy “about a man who quits his corporate career to try to cut it as a filmmaker”, is itself the product of creator and star Adjani Salmon’s decision to leave a steady job to pursue his dream, said Dan Einav in the Financial Times. Salmon’s fictional counterpart is British Jamaican Kwabena, who walks out of a job in recruitment in order to work full-time on his film, a Windrush-era drama. Alas, he finds “a dearth of opportunities for someone with no experience, few connections and dark skin”. 

The series sends up the film industry’s “troubling relationship” with race, skewering the superficial application of words such as “diversity” and “inclusivity”, and showing how minority storytellers are compelled to lean into reductive stereotypes to get their work noticed. But it’s often “more breezy than biting, and as whimsically quirky as it is wryly observed”. 

Kwabena and his friends come up against a host of “microprejudices”, said Carol Midgley in The Times, but these are “catalogued with wit and a nice light touch”. And the switches between the fantasy life in Kwabena’s head and “disappointing reality” are nicely done. 

It’s a confident, funny show that “works as a fable of modern black Britishness and also a tender prayer to the frustrations of the modern creative”, said Barbara Ellen in The Observer. The cast is “pitch perfect”, and if the series ends on a tense note, it is “an unfinished one”, suggesting that more episodes may be on their way. “Yes please.”

Watch on BBC iPlayer