David Harewood will investigate the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on black and minority ethnic communities in a new documentary.
The BBC One programme will see the actor meet medical researchers and doctors who are examining the genetic, environmental and social conditions behind the phenomenon.
In May, research by University College London (UCL) suggested people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities were two to three times more likely to die from coronavirus.
Harewood said: “Covid-19 has had a profound impact on the whole of the UK but it has left a particularly devastating footprint in the lives of many black and other ethnic minority communities across the country, taking the lives of loved ones and relatives in shocking numbers.
“In this documentary I set out to understand the real reasons why this is happening and what can be done about it.”
Jack Bootle, head of commissioning for science and natural history at the BBC, said: “The statistics are truly shocking and it’s vital we try to understand what lies behind them.
“With his intelligence, integrity and lived experience of health inequality, David is the perfect person to investigate this issue in a major new film for BBC One.”
A documentary fronted by footballer Anton Ferdinand about racism in the sport has also been commissioned for BBC One.
Anton Ferdinand: Football, Racism & Me will see him meet players and managers to discuss the issue.
Ferdinand said: “Racism is still a prominent issue in football and during the filming process alone, there have been numerous incidents on and off the pitch.
“I hope by sharing my own personal experiences of racism I can help people understand this subject better.
“It’s of huge importance and should matter to us all.”
Ferdinand was himself at the centre of a race row in 2011 when former Chelsea and England captain John Terry was accused of making racist comments to him.
Clare Sillery, BBC head of commissioning for documentaries, history and religion, said: “With so many still being affected by racism in football, and in the wider society, we hope this documentary will help instigate a much-needed conversation around this issue.”
The broadcaster has also commissioned Patrick Kielty: My Nation, Its Border And Me in which the presenter will examine the history of Northern Ireland.