Miss Lou At Rada

Louise Bennett became RADA's first black female student when she arrived there in 1945.

Her groundbreaking use of the Jamaican language and preservation of her country's cultural roots have made her Jamaica's greatest living national icon.

Yvonne Brewster tells the consistently pioneering story of Louise Bennett, or Miss Lou as she is affectionately known.

With contributions from Linton Kwesi Johnson, Leonie Forbes and Rex Nettleford.

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20050909

Louise Bennett became RADA's first black female student when she arrived there in 1945.

Her groundbreaking use of the Jamaican language and preservation of her country's cultural roots have made her Jamaica's greatest living national icon.

Yvonne Brewster tells the consistently pioneering story of Louise Bennett, or Miss Lou as she is affectionately known.

With contributions from Linton Kwesi Johnson, Leonie Forbes and Rex Nettleford.

20060825

Yvonne Brewster tells the story of Louise Bennett, who died recently. Miss Lou, as she was affectionately known, became RADA's first black female student in 1945.

Bennett was a national icon in Jamaica and for Caribbean communities around the world. The programme follows Miss Lou's entry into the post-war world of the academy and finds out how the BBC curtailed her studies there, when she became a resident artist on the General Overseas Service, a forerunner of the World Service. The range of radio and TV work she had at the BBC and the roles she played in repertory theatre around the country give a fascinating insight into the opportunities available for black performers in Britain in the pre-Windrush years.

Throughout the Caribbean, Miss Lou is known for writing and performing in the Jamaican language, a controversial move in 1950s and 60s Jamaica. Her wise and witty poetry and monologues are about ordinary, working class people. She has been called the only poet who has really hit the truth about her society through her own language. Miss Lou's importance in preserving Jamaican folklore - often from the edge of extinction - and in popularising it cannot be underestimated - she was a living archive of the islands cultural roots. Through the decades, her appearances on Jamaican radio and TV entertained and informed generations of Jamaicans, not least her influential Saturday morning children's programme, Ring Ding.