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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 September, 2003, 06:28 GMT 07:28 UK
'Black Baftas' fete EastEnders star
Rudolph Walker
Rudolph Walker, aka Patrick Trueman, says he's no "veteran"
The cream of Britain's black entertainers were given recognition at the Screen Nation Film and TV Awards on Wednesday night.

EastEnders' star Rudolph Walker - who plays Patrick Trueman in the BBC soap - received a special tribute, with a Trailblazer Award for his longstanding screen presence.

Cutting It star Angela Griffin, Casualty actor turned Fame Academy contestant Kwame Kwei-Armah, and T4's June Sarpong were also among the winners.

The Screen Nation awards, now in their second year, honour black British actors and performers in film and TV.

Naomi Harris won best TV actress for her performance in the small screen adaptation of Zadie Smith's novel White Teeth; and Lenni James, last seen in gritty prison drama Buried, was awarded best TV actor.

Walker, 63, first found fame in seventies sitcom Love Thy Neighbour.

Critics

As the first British TV show to feature a major black character, it was credited with breaking down race barriers.

Screen Nation award winners
Best film actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dirty Pretty Things
Best film actress: Sophie Okonedo, Dirty Pretty Things
Best TV actor: Lenni James, Buried
Best TV actress: Naomi Harris, White Teeth
Favourite female TV star, Angela Griffin, Cutting It
Favourite male TV star: Kwame Kwei-Armah, Casualty, Fame Academy
Best presenter: June Sarpong, T4
Emerging talent award: Caroline Chikezie, As If
Best drama: White Teeth
Best comedy: 3 Non Blondes

The comedy, which centred around a black man who lives next door to a white racist, was eventually dropped as it was deemed politically incorrect.

Trinidadian Walker is currently starring in The Crouches, BBC1's first black family sitcom, but its debut on Tuesday night received a poor reception from critics.

Rudolph Walker said he was delighted at his award, but insisted that he had many years of acting left in him.

"Don't call me a veteran because I still have a long time to go," he said.

White writer

Walker defended The Crouches, in which he plays Grandad Langley.

The show has been criticised for employing a white writer - Glaswegian creator of Rab C Nesbitt Ian Pattison - to write about a black family from south London.

Angela Griffin
Griffin became a household name when she was in Coronation Street

But Walker said: "I have no objections, the colour of the writer doesn't matter. Shakespeare was white - did his colour matter?

"About 90% of the work I have done has been from white writers.

Should I have said no to The Thin Blue Line because it was written by Ben Elton?"

Mercury Prize nominee Terri Walker sang at the ceremony, as did Kwame, who is soon to release an album on the back of his Celebrity Fame Academy success.




SEE ALSO:
BBC triumphs at Emma awards
31 May 02  |  Entertainment
Emma Awards: The winners 2003
30 May 03  |  Entertainment
Emma honours for Mistry and Omaar
30 May 03  |  Entertainment
Acting roles for minorities increase
08 Aug 03  |  Entertainment
EastEnders cleans up at TV awards
08 Sep 03  |  Entertainment
Black winners: Hype or history?
25 Mar 02  |  Oscars 2002


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