Not too long ago, I posted the trailer of a new online sitcom called Meet the Adebanjos which follows the joys and troubles of a British Nigerian family living in the UK. I have been following their journey for a while and was pleased to attend the premiere screening event which took place at the Ritzy Cinema in South London last week.
Meet the Adebanjos is the first piece of work by MTA Production which consists of TV producer was created by Debra Odutuyo and former city trailer Andrew Osayemi. After years of going back and forth trying to get the idea commissioned by the UK broadcasters, they decided to produce the programme independently. They received funding from private investors and have decided to release it online. You can read more about the challenges they faced in an interesting piece by Let’s Go Deeper. A leaked trailer has already received almost 50,000 views and coupled with other teaser vids on Youtube and interest from blogs and the online sphere, Meet the Adebanjos has already achieved a large following that is expected to grow with the first episode going live today (26 June).
The screening event was a great success; everyone left the room with smiles on their faces, both impressed and inspired by what Andrew, Debra and the entire cast had managed to create with little else but sheer determination. As for the actual content, there were plenty of laughs and charm and even though there were some flaws in terms of the timing of the canned laughter, no one could deny that MTA is something the entire team should be extremely proud of.
Hosted by comedian Simply Andy (who also has a role in the programme) we got to hear from the cast and creators about why MTA was such an important production. Wale Ojo, who plays the patriarch of the family Bayo Adebanjo, stated that this type of comedy hasn’t been explored nearly enough on television so it was refreshing to see it come to life. Yetunde Adewole, who plays the mother Gladys, said that it is very rare to see black love portrayed on British television and shown in a positive light so MTA challenges perceptions in this respect. Debra, one of the creators, went on to say that MTA proves a point that you can produce quality independently; you don’t have to wait for a handout. MTA also represents more than just a show – it is about people achieving their goals and doing what others say can’t be done.
Some people may say that only a minority of people will find this relateable so for it to be picked up by a major broadcaster was always going to be a long shot. However, the great thing about comedy is that it can reach everyone – look at the success of Desmonds, or even cultural programmes like The Family on Channel 4. You don’t have to be Nigerian or even black to appreciate the sentiment of family and relate the show to all the idiosyncracies that we love and hate about our own.
You can see the first episode of Meet the Adebanjos for free by clicking here – the password is: afrobrit
This is only the first production from Debra and Andrew and they promise to deliver many more so keep track of their developments on their website www.meettheadebanjos.com. They have already received interest in MTA from Nigeria and South Africa and look out for DVDs coming soon!