Melvin Odoom calls for more representation in TV following The Big Breakfast’s diverse reboot

‘People are scared of change’: Melvin Odoom calls for more representation in TV following The Big Breakfast’s diverse reboot

Melvin Odoom has called for more representation in the TV industry ahead of the launch of The Big Breakfast’s diverse reboot. 

The iconic Nineties show has been revamped with AJ Odudu and Mo Gilligan at the helm after the pair hosted a one-off special last year as part of Channel 4’s Black To Front project.

Former Strictly star Melvin, 42, appeared in the special and will also feature on the new series in a move he praised for promoting racial diversity on screen. 

Speaking out: Melvin Odoom has called for more representation in the TV industry ahead of the launch of The Big Breakfast's diverse reboot

Speaking out: Melvin Odoom has called for more representation in the TV industry ahead of the launch of The Big Breakfast’s diverse reboot

Asked how it felt to take part in the Black to Front initiative, which saw Channel 4’s entire schedule led by black talent on and off screen for one day, he said: ‘We made history. 

‘Put it this way – when I was growing up I remember telling my mum I wanted to be a presenter and that was hard for her to process because there weren’t many examples of black talent on TV.

‘You probably had Lenny Henry and Trevor McDonald – two guys! Look at the plethora of talent that we have in the world right now.’

Guess who's  back: The Nineties show has been revamped with AJ Odudu and Mo Gilligan at the helm after they hosted a one-off special last year for Channel 4’s Black To Front project

Guess who’s  back: The Nineties show has been revamped with AJ Odudu and Mo Gilligan at the helm after they hosted a one-off special last year for Channel 4’s Black To Front project

He continued: ‘There were two black men on TV at the time who my mum could reference, so she couldn’t fathom the idea of me becoming a TV presenter. That’s why representation is so important.

‘Never in my life have I seen a breakfast show with that amount of amazing black talent in one space. 

‘You have one or two amazing black presenters on other channels at breakfast, but to have one show with that amount of black talent on television? You name me one. You’ll struggle, and it shouldn’t be a struggle. What we did that day was make history.’

Melvin said: 'When I was growing up I remember telling my mum I wanted to be a presenter and that was hard for her to process because there weren't many examples of black talent on TV'

Melvin said: ‘When I was growing up I remember telling my mum I wanted to be a presenter and that was hard for her to process because there weren’t many examples of black talent on TV’

Discussing how the TV industry has fared with representation since then, Melvin added: ‘I think it’s opened their eyes because, if I’m completely honest, people are scared. 

‘People are scared because we live in a world where people don’t really like change. Change is scary and everything is about money, figures, and audiences. 

‘So if you are driven by audience numbers and other figures, you’re going to stick to what you know – you’re going to go for the formats and presenters which are the fail-safe roads to go down.

‘But, truly, there’s so much talent. I’m not just saying it’s black people – there are Asian people, disabled people, and people from the LGBTQ+ community who are all capable of doing a job. My rule has always been to get the best person for the job.

‘It doesn’t matter what they look like or where they’re from, just get the best person for the job. The Black to Front initiative opened everyone’s eyes to realise they can change things up drastically and it can still work. Stop being scared.’

Coming soon: The revamp will see Judi Love back grilling guests in the On The Bed Interview

Coming soon: The revamp will see Judi Love back grilling guests in the On The Bed Interview

Exciting: Harriet Rose will be out and about on the streets playing Hot Sausage with members of the public

Exciting: Big Breakfast newsreader Phil Gayle returns to deliver the headlines

Exciting: Harriet Rose will be out and about on the streets playing Hot Sausage with members of the public and Big Breakfast newsreader Phil Gayle returns to deliver the headlines

Meanwhile,  in  a chat with The Guardian, host Mo said:  ‘It reflects the changing face of our society.

‘Of course, there will be some people that are still stuck in their ways – “Two black presenters? They’re taking over!” – but there’s also people who genuinely want to see different faces and voices on TV.’

Co-host AJ added: ‘People should be seen and represented, that’s very important to me. We’ve got that diversity on the show now, we’ve got a range of characters.’

The revamp will see Judi Love back grilling guests in the On The Bed Interview, Melvin and Harriet Rose will be out and about on the streets of the UK playing Hot Sausage with members of the public and Big Breakfast newsreader Phil Gayle returns to deliver the morning’s headlines.

As well as features and games, Mo and AJ will be joined by Oscar and Bafta winning actor, Daniel Kaluuya, singer Rita Ora, Big Breakfast legend Denise Van Outen, comedian Joel Dommett, rap sensation Aitch and chef Big Has with more guest names to be announced.

Prior to the Black To Front special The Big Breakfast last aired in 2001 with Denise Van Outen, 47, and Johnny Vaughan, 55, as the hosts. 

The Big Breakfast will air Saturdays from August 13 at 10am on Channel 4 and All 4

Blast from the past: The morning show last aired on 12 January 2001 with Denise Van Outen, 47, and Johnny Vaughan, 55, as the hosts

Blast from the past: The morning show last aired on 12 January 2001 with Denise Van Outen, 47, and Johnny Vaughan, 55, as the hosts

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