18 June 2021
BAFTA Award-winning spoken word series Life & Rhymes will return to Sky Arts, the UK’s only TV channel dedicated to arts and culture, later this year. The Sky Original series, hosted by acclaimed British writer and poet, Professor Benjamin Zephaniah, sees some of the country’s leading spoken word performers and select members of the audience showcase their lyrical creativity on topics such as racism, gender, sexuality and mental health. The first entertainment show of its kind, Life & Rhymes celebrates the art of spoken word and brings it to a mainstream setting.
Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts and Entertainment, said:
“Life and Rhymes is a true original – placing performance poetry on the pedestal it deserves. It’s vibrant and relevant and provides a powerful platform for many voices to be heard, all under the nurturing gaze of Benjamin Zephaniah who’s a God.”
The first 4×26 minute series of Life & Rhymes was filmed during lockdown in front of a live socially distanced audience in South London’s Battersea Park. The second series will return to Battersea Park and will air this autumn.
Professor Benjamin Zephaniah, said:
“I’m looking forward to presenting a new series of Life and Rhymes. Giving a platform to people to speak their truth through poetry and the spoken word, is a joy. It’s a programme with no ego. It’s a programme about people. It’s the programme I’ve waited all my life to present. It’s good to be home.”
Life & Rhymes triumphed at the BAFTA Television Awards earlier this month where it won the award for Best Entertainment Programme, beating off competition from Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway (ITV), Strictly Come Dancing (BBC) and The Masked Singer (ITV).
Life & Rhymes was commissioned by Zai Bennett, Managing Director of Content for Sky UK and Ireland and Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts and Entertainment. The commissioning editor for Sky is Barbara Lee. Isaac Nartey, a Sky Academy Leader in the young people department at Sky, also gained Associate Producer and Co-Creator credits on the programme for his lifelong passion to showcase the much-underrepresented genre.
Life & Rhymes is co-created by Bob Clarke and Isaac Nartey. The series is co-produced by CPL Productions, a Red Arrow Studios company, and Licklemor Productions, owned by MAMA Youth Project. Executive producers are Murray Boland, Danielle Lux, Sharon Ali for CPL Productions and Bob Clarke for Licklemor Productions.
All episodes of Life & Rhymes S1 are available on Sky Arts and streaming service NOW.
The next series of Life & Rhymes will air on Sky Arts, free for everyone to watch on Freeview Channel 11, this autumn.
Notes to Editors:
For more information, please contact:
About Sky Arts
Sky Arts exists to bring more art to more people across the UK. In 2020, with the creative industries under serious threat, we threw open our doors to make the channel free for everyone to watch. We’ve redoubled our mission to increase access to the arts and we’re committed to getting everyone involved as the industry recovers. The fact is, we need the arts now like never before, and Sky Arts brings them straight to your living room.
We have something for everyone, championing creative talent by showcasing the best in music, theatre, dance, literature, opera and visual art. From Glyndebourne to Grime and Cézanne to The Style Council, we’ve got your passions covered. Millions of viewers tune in to hit returning series such as Portrait Artist of the Year, Urban Myths and British cultural institution The South Bank Show, but our acclaimed new programmes might take you anywhere from Pinter’s house with Danny Dyer to a Scottish road trip with Samuel Johnson.
Collaboration is at the heart of what we do. Sky Arts is the headline sponsor of National Theatre Live in the UK and we work with cultural partners across the country including the English National Opera, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate, Creative Industries Federation and Coventry City of Culture to name but a few.
You can watch Sky Arts for free on Freeview channel 11 and Freesat channel 147. If you’ve got Sky or a Now TV entertainment pass, you can also watch over 2,000 hours of shows exclusively on demand.
We’re passionate about supporting the next generation of artists, so we’re working with five leading Sky Arts Ambassadors: Booker Prize-winner Bernardine Evaristo, dance artist Akram Khan, conductor Charles Hazlewood, Theatre Royal Stratford East Artistic Director Nadia Fall, and sculptor Anish Kapoor – to run bursary schemes for new and emerging talent.
About MAMA Youth Project
MAMA Youth (MYP) is a registered charity specialising in TV production based in Sky UK campus in Osterley. MAMA Youth Project was set up to provide training and opportunities to, mainly young people (18–25yrs) from Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic groups; White Working Class, disadvantaged backgrounds, those of any background that have faced trauma or a major challenge, and those with limited education or employment who have an interest in TV or the media industry, as well as to those who simply want to change their lives for the better. The charity is also committed to working with the media industry to help achieve the industry’s frequently stated aim of becoming more diverse and therefore more representative of the audiences they serve. Previous awards include The Princess Royal Award, RTS Award, and Business in the Community Award. To date, MAMA Youth Project has helped 570 young people change their lives and become role models for those who are facing life challenges such as homelessness, poor mental health, ex offender and abuse.
About Licklemor Productions
Licklemor Productions is the commercial arm of MAMA Youth Project. In addition to financially supporting the charity, Licklemor provides a platform for our alumni to pursue creative projects and generates work opportunities for those who are now established television and media professionals. Licklemor utilises our young talent, who are enthusiastic, creative and relevant to the content we produce. Our USP is that our productions allow our alumni to have major editorial input in our programmes, whilst working with other seasoned television and media professionals from beyond the MAMA Youth Project family. Experienced alumni are often given the opportunity to take the next step in their career, such as researcher achieving their first assistant producer credit. Several alumni worked on the BAFTA award winning Life & Rhymes, including the series producer, Tanita Ojo- Baptiste. While the MAMA Youth Project is the only shareholder, Licklemor Production is a separate enterprise and is a registered limited company.
About CPL Productions
CPL Productions, a Red Arrow Studios company, is one of the most successful independent TV, radio and podcast production companies in the UK. An impressive roster of hit shows includes Sky Arts recent BAFTA-winning spoken word series Life & Rhymes; Sky One’s long-running and double BAFTA-winning series A League of Their Own, the US version Game On! for CBS, and spin-off series’ A League of Their Own: European Road Trips, US Road Trips and London to Loch Ness; There’s Something About Movies and Rob and Romesh Vs for Sky One; Sky One comedy The Reluctant Landlord, written by and starring Romesh Ranganathan; new comedy quiz show Quizness, hosted by Tom Allen, multi-award winning Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes and Married At First Sight – all for Channel 4; children’s game show Don’t Unleash the Beast for CITV and BFI; scripted series Brief Encounters for ITV; High Strangeness the sci-fi comedy drama for Audible; You Are What you Eat the new reboot of the hit series for Channel 5; and with Harry Hill and their NIT Television joint venture, Alien Fun Capsule for ITV, Harry Hill’s Clubnite and Reasons to be Cheerful with Matt Lucas for Channel 4, entertainment series Harry Hill’s World of TV for BBC Two, and new comedy sketch show Ellie & Natasia for BBC Three. The company has production partnerships with Ranga Bee Productions, Licklemor Productions and Tiny House Productions. CPL also has a long history of producing award-winning audio content, including numerous productions for BBC Radio Two and Four.
Sky is Europe’s leading media and entertainment company and is proud to be part of the Comcast group. Across six countries, we connect our 24 million customers to the best entertainment, sports, news and arts including our own award-winning original content.
Our technology, including the market leading Sky Q, connects people to everything they love – with entertainment from Sky TV, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer, and apps like Spotify, YouTube, BBC Sounds, Highbrow, Fiit, and more, in one place, easy. Our streaming service NOW, brings viewers all the enjoyment of Sky with the flexibility of a contract-free service.
Building on the success of Sky Originals like Chernobyl, Bulletproof and Brassic, we are doubling our investment in original content by 2024 through Sky Studios. Sky News provides impartial and trustworthy journalism for free, Sky Arts is the UK’s only dedicated free-to-air arts channel making the arts accessible for everyone and Sky Sports, our leading sports broadcasting service brings customers some of the biggest and best global sporting events from the Premier League to Formula 1 and everything in between. Our new TV and movie studio, Sky Studios Elstree, which will open in 2022, is expected to create over 2,000 new jobs and generate an additional £3 billion of production investment in the UK over the first five years.
We believe that we can be a force for good in the communities in which we operate. We’re committed to being Europe’s first net zero carbon entertainment company by 2030 and we’re proud to be a Principal Partner and Media Partner of COP26. We take pride in our approach to diversity and inclusion: we’ve been recognised by The Times and Stonewall for our commitment to diversity and we’ve set ambitious 2025 targets to continue to increase diversity and representation. We’re also committed to investing £30million across our markets over three years to improve our approach to diversity and inclusion, and to tackle racial injustice.