he new BBC series Dreaming Whilst Black starts with the protagonist walking through a film set. He sits on the director’s chair, a coffee in hand, a sly smirk on his face and shouts “Action”. He is the big dog, the man in charge. Until he wakes up, that is.

In the show’s reality, Kwabena is an inspiring filmmaker working in recruitment to make ends meet while he desperately scrambles to get his big break in the film industry. But with every step forward, an unfortunate event finds him taking a significant leap back, and it’s not long until he is unemployed (or “freelance” as he prefers to call it) and taking any opportunity he can get.

Dreaming Whilst Black is a six-part comedy based on a web series created by writer-cum-director Adjani Salmon in 2018. Its pilot won a BAFTA for Emerging Talent last year, and the full series is produced by A24 and the London-based Bafta-winning production company Big Deal Films. The show follows Kwabena (portrayed by Salmon) as he leaves his corporate career to pursue his passions. The main obstacle is that he is a working-class Black man with few connections in the industry and less-than-ideal confidence in himself.

<p>Dani Moseley as Amy and Adjani Salmon as Kwabena</p>

Dani Moseley as Amy and Adjani Salmon as Kwabena

/ BBC/Big Deal Films/Anup Bhatt

While the show has been marketed as a satire, many of the jokes and anecdotes, which Salmon has said are based on the real-life experiences of Black people, ring undeniably true. Kwabena’s friend Amy (Dani Moseley) is asked by her boss to take the fall for a tone-deaf blunder at work, on a campaign for which she previously expressed her dislike. The series is peppered with well-meaning white people making unsolicited remarks with racial undertones: backhanded compliments about hair, food, film choices, eloquence and professionalism.

That said, some gags do verge on the outlandish. In one scene, Kwabena attends a karaoke event with colleagues and, when forced to sing, realises that his white friend chose their song option with the intention of Kwabena repeatedly rapping the N-word, which he, of course, declines to do. While something like this probably has happened, the idea that in a room in a bar in London today, the entire audience would cordially (and very enthusiastically) bounce along as some of the white customers scream that word at the top of their lungs just doesn’t quite feel realistic to me — but some people I have spoken to about this seem to disagree.

We also see a side to the film industry that many Black creatives grapple with at some point in their careers. Kwabena has an idea for a film that puts him in the running to receive the support he needs from a diversity scheme, but he is advised to come up with something that panders to more generic and stereotypical Black themes, such as drugs and prison. This sounds familiar. A senior white colleague once instructed me at a place I once worked to write more “Black stuff,” which I politely refused (and would seemingly suffer for later).

Many Black people have also mentioned only being asked to work on something when the project directly relates to Black people or topics. But Kwabena — who is about ten years older than I was when I was ‘advised’ in this way — thinks about his options slightly more strategically, which works for him, though only partially.

<p>Adjani Salmon as Kwabena</p>

Adjani Salmon as Kwabena

/ BBC/Big Deal Films

It’s good to see that Black women take central roles in the show, and their experiences are afforded considerable time and space. Amy is a producer who is repeatedly overlooked professionally, despite apparently being the hardest working and most in the know in her office; Vanessa, (babirye bukilwa) is Kwabena’s elegant love interest; and Kwabena’s cousin’s partner Funmi (Rachel Adedeji) is heavily pregnant.

Not only do the women explore their own lives, the series deals with how the men in the show relate to them. Kwabena’s cousin Maurice (Demmy Ladipo) is anxious about becoming a dad, smothering his wife with his concerns – neatly breaking away from stereotypes about Black people having absent fathers. Kwabena also struggles to keep up with his girlfriend financially, but finds himself still conforming to gender stereotypes in terms of who should pay on dates.

At times, approaching the Black experience in this way, packing so many different experiences and familiar microaggressions into one piece of work can feel forced, especially as for many Black British people, the ideas the show tussles with won’t be shocking to see. Certain scenes seem thrown in with the intention only of ticking off a particular topic, which raises the question of who the intended audience is for this show — oddly, since the overriding references and languages used will resonate most strongly with a Black audience. The issues addressed seem likely to engage more with white individuals who are open to learning about the subtleties in the treatment of Black people in the UK.

Ultimately though, this comedy does what it set out to do: it’s funny, engaging and informative, it handles serious topics with care – and it is incredibly Black.

Dreaming Whilst Black is on BBC iPlayer; episodes 5 and 6 will air tonight at 10pm and 10.30pm on BBC Three