Desmond's was a British television situation comedy broadcast by Channel 4 from 1989 to 1994. The first series was filmed in 1988, with the first episode broadcast in January 1989. The show was made in and set in Peckham, London, England and featured a predominantly West Indian cast.
Conceived and co-written by Trix Worrell and produced by Charlie Hanson and Humphrey Barclay this series starred Norman Beaton as barber Desmond Ambrose. Desmond's shop was a gathering place for an assortment of local characters.
Whilst the show was not the first Black (or predominately Black) British sitcom it was the first to be set mainly in the workplace which provided a different insight on Black family life than had been seen on British television before. The characters were aspirational (Desmond to return to Guyana, Michael to run his own branch of the bank, Gloria to get a job in fashion, Sean to get to university) and socially mobile. Some of the show's success and notability may well have also come from the fact that the vast majority of the cast and crew were black.
Much of the success of the show came from the dynamics and relationships both within the Ambrose family and the other characters in the show who spent time in the shop.
The Ambroses were the central family that the show was built around.
Worrell was keen to show that racism existed not just between broad ethnic groups, but also within them. While Matthew was the frequent butt of jokes from the West Indian characters, particularly Porkpie and Desmond, he was always keen to point out the strength of African history with his regular interjection "There's an old African saying".
The show had a unique method of team writing that raised the profile of some writers, notably playwright Michael J Ellis, who went on to work on other shows, including the BBC's all-black sketch show The Real McCoy, and Worrell himself went on to work in films.
Desmond's came 70th in the 2004 BBC poll to find Britain's Best Sitcom. Reruns aired in the USA on BET in the early-1990s. The show continued to be popular, running on NYCTV as part of their Caribbean programming on Sunday nights in the late-1990s. As of January 2007, the network still airs reruns of Desmond's from time to time. From 1997 until late 2000, Paramount Comedy reran the show. Trouble TV, in the U.K., began showing re-runs of Desmond's in September 2007.