1 9 8 3 – 1 9 8 5 (UK)
27 x 30 minute episodes
Set in a council house in Willesden Green, north London, the comedy focused on the young adult Powell children, whose parents (never seen) have returned to Jamaica, leaving their offspring to fend for themselves.
Terri (Shope Shodeinde) wants to be a model, her boyfriend Beast (Malcolm Frederick) opens a nightclub, and Toshiba (Chris Tummings) runs a pirate radio station (Radio Runnings) and later releases his own hit record. Melba is their cousin, visiting from Jamaica.
No Problem! was not only the first British-made sitcom on C4 but also the first black-made sitcom created for British TV. The only preceding example, The Fosters was a UK adaptation of an American series.
The cast were members of the Black Theatre Co-operative, which staged plays in and around London in the early 1980s. Unbeknown to them, LWT’s Head of Comedy Humphrey Barclay had been along to see many (if not all) of the BTC events and he duly commissioned the series, financing a four-week drama-and-writing workshop in which writing ideas and acting talent could be assessed.
The idea was not to make No Problem! into a vehicle for racial complaint but to make the programme as funny as possible. This did not suit various black causes which actively came to dislike the series and criticised its lack of a ‘stance’.
Even if No Problem! was not radical, black culture was embraced from first to last, right through to the reggae band Aswad appearing in the final episode.
The series ended when Farrukh Dhondy (one of the co-writers on No Problem!) was appointed Commissioning Editor of Multicultural Programmes at C4 and – in a feat of great integrity – axed his own show. He returned in July 1985 with Tandoori Nights.
The principal cast of No Problem! – Chris Tummings, Janet Kay, Victor Romero Evans, Judith Jacob, Malcolm Frederick and Shope Shodeinde – turned up together in Channel 4’s 1983/84 New Year’s Eve hour-long special Party At The Palace, performing especially written material in character.
Victor Romero Evans