Dr Ranj Singh has hailed the importance of diversity on screen as he supports an initiative encouraging young people to come up with an idea for a mini-TV show to be filmed at home during lockdown.
The This Morning presenter is an ambassador for the See Yourself on Screen Challenge, an initiative launched by the BFI.
Aimed at young children between the ages of four to 18, it will see the winning entrants receive expert tuition from industry professionals who will help them prior to their mini-TV show being aired on national TV across select public service broadcasters.
He told the PA news agency: “We know that if you use on-screen media carefully, creatively and considerably, then you can actually use it as a hugely powerful educational tool.
“It can support and nourish young minds and also, especially in times like this when we are all stuck indoors and children and young people are consuming huge amounts of online and on-screen media, it’s a great time for them to get creative, create something for themselves that they and their peers will enjoy watching.
“And it’s really beneficial for their mental health because it gives them back a degree of control in a world that kind of feels out of control right now.”
The See Yourself on Screen Challenge is supported by broadcast partners including Channel 5’s Milkshake!, CITV, E4, Welsh channel S4C and Ireland’s TG4, as well as organisations including Animation UK, Bafta Kids, Pact, Northern Ireland Screen and more.
Thirty-second submissions will be shortlisted across three age categories – ages 4-7, 8-13 and 14-18 – by industry experts from partner organisations.
Winning entrants from the age categories will be offered digital masterclasses from an industry expert and the resulting mini-TV show will be aired by one of the broadcasting partners later in the year.
Former Strictly Come Dancing star Dr Ranj added: “What I think is really important is to try and show as much diversity as we can on screen. Because this competition is open to Welsh speakers, it’s open to Irish speakers, it’s open to anybody of any background, I think it’s really important to get some of that diversity that we have in society on to the television because that’s hugely important.”
Jackie Edwards, head of the BFI’s Young Audiences Content Fund, said: “The pandemic has exquisitely highlighted the importance of public service broadcasting in all of our lives. This is particularly true for children and young people for whom culturally relevant programming, and seeing people like them on screen, can provide a much-needed touchstone which isn’t always readily available.
“We’re inviting all young audiences in the UK to come up with programme ideas for lockdown life, not just as a creative challenge to entertain, but to help describe and document these very unusual times.
“We are delighted to have so many partners involved who are creators, supporters and broadcasters of great quality television for the young of this country. It’s brilliant to get everyone together – while we’re all apart – for the See Yourself on Screen Challenge.”
John Whittingdale, minister for media and data, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for young people to use the extra time they are spending at home to get creative and potentially see their ideas brought to life on national TV.
“Through the publicly funded Young Audiences Content Fund, we are aiming to inspire and engage the next generation of TV talent and make sure the diverse experiences of young people across the country are represented on screen.”
Entries should be submitted via www.bfi.org.uk/seeyourselfonscreen and the closing date is noon on May 25.