Tuesday 20 March 2018

There were hundreds of black cowboys, Jericho star Clarke Peters says

Clarke Peters as Ralph Coates in new ITV series Jericho (ITV/PA)
Clarke Peters as Ralph Coates in new ITV series Jericho (ITV/PA)

African-American actor Clarke Peters has insisted there were "hundreds of black cowboys" despite a lack of representation in Hollywood.

Peters was talking to the Radio Times about his new ITV series Jericho, in which he plays cowboy Ralph Coates.

T he eight-part drama is s et in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1870s and focuses on the frontier-like community that emerged during the building of the Ribblehead Viaduct.

The star, best known as Detective Lester Freamon in acclaimed drama The Wire, was unequivocal when it came to perceptions about cowboys.

"There were hundreds of black cowboys but because we look at what Hollywood puts out, we feel, 'that's the cowboys'. Hell, no! Hell no!," Peters said.

"We are at a point where I see that we have all been educated with certain information that perpetuates the stifling of people of colour and class.

"In England it is class. In America it is colour," the star stated, although he also acknowledged that "institutional racism pervades on both sides of the ocean".

In the forthcoming series, penniless widow Annie Quaintain (played by Jessica Raine), departs for Jericho with her two children in the hope of rebuilding their lives.

She meets self-styled railway agent Coates, who has a past that keeps him looking over his shoulder. However, he offers her a helping hand.

Partly inspired by the 1953 Hollywood western Shane, Jericho creator Steve Thompson also worked on Sherlock and Doctor Who.

Born in New York, Peters, 63, moved to the UK in 1973. He appeared in several British shows, including ITV's The Professionals and BBC One's Jonathan Creek, before returning to the US in 1999.

Peters has continued to work on both sides of the Atlantic and it has given him a unique perspective on the subject of black storytelling in television.

"African-Americans would love to see what a black life is like in Birmingham. To see what a black life is like in Huddersfield. I think that is just as viable," he said.

:: Jericho is broadcast on ITV at 9pm on January 7.

Press Association

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