First interracial kiss on television

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The first interracial kiss on television is a much debated topic concerning who the first two persons of different races to kiss on television were. For a time, it was understood to have occurred during an episode of the British soap opera Emergency – Ward 10 in 1964. However, in November 2015, a Granada Play of the Week, You in Your Small Corner, was uncovered which was broadcast in June 1962; that quickly led to the rediscovery of another play featuring the same young Jamaican actor, Hot Summer Night,[1] televised in Britain on 1 February 1959. The first interracial kiss on U.S. television was broadcast in a 1960 episode of Adventures in Paradise, "Makaha Surfing", also known as "The Big Surf", between star Gardner McKay and Filipina Pilar Seurat. Competing claims have also been made in favour of I Love Lucy.


UK television[edit]

You in Your Small Corner (1962) and Hot Summer Night (1959)[edit]

You in Your Small Corner, live broadcast on British television from 1962.

In June 1962, a live performance of the play You in Your Small Corner by Barry Reckord was broadcast on British television as part of the Granada Television series Play of the Week. The central theme of the play is a relationship between a young black intellectual and a white working class girl. During the play, a kiss takes place between actors Lloyd Reckord and Elizabeth MacLennan, and what has been described as an "explicit post-coital scene".[2]

You In Your Small Corner was rediscovered during preparations for a November 2015 British Film Institute panel discussion on "Race and Romance on TV" and was used in publicity for the event. As a result, panel moderator Samira Ahmed was able, on the night, to announce the rediscovery of an even earlier TV kiss by Reckord, with Andrée Melly, in the ITV Armchair Theatre adaptation of Ted Willis's play Hot Summer Night, broadcast on 1 February 1959,[3][4], and later adapted as the 1961 feature film Flame in the Streets.

Emergency Ward 10[edit]

One of the first interracial kisses on television occurred in an episode of British soap opera Emergency Ward 10, which was broadcast in July 1964.

One of the earliest interracial kisses on television occurred in a July 1964 episode of British soap opera Emergency Ward 10, during which characters Louise Mahler (portrayed by Joan Hooley) and Giles Farmer (portrayed by John White) kissed.[2][5][6] The scene in which Mahler and Farmer kissed was originally scripted to occur in Mahler's bedroom, but was rewritten so as to occur outdoors, due to concerns it would otherwise be too risqué (the earlier Lloyd Reckord plays had both been shown well after the 9pm adult-content watershed). According to an issue of the Daily Express published after the episode aired, "not a viewer rang-up to complain".[7] In a 2015 interview, conducted prior to the discovery of the You in Your Small Corner footage, Hooley noted that the historic importance of what had been known as the "first interracial kiss on television" had been inflated in popular memory:

A lot of people spoke about it more ten years later than they did at the time it was happening. So, it was much later that it occurred to me that I was part of history. I find it odd to have to admit that I was part of history because I don't see why there should be anything to do about it. I don't think there should have been all this fuss about it.

— Joan Hooley, "First Inter-racial Kiss on TV". BBC World Service. 29 July 2015.

US television[edit]

I Love Lucy[edit]

The 1950s American television programme I Love Lucy broadcast multiple instances of real-life husband and wife Desi Arnaz, a Hispanic male, and Lucille Ball, a woman of North European ancestry, kissing.[8] However, despite Arnaz and Ball being frequently described as an "interracial couple", "Hispanic" is generally understood to be a catchall indicating persons of a Latin American, Spanish, or Filipino cultural background, as opposed to a race. Arnaz was usually considered to be a white male of Cuban ancestry.[9]

Adventures in Paradise[edit]

An episode of Adventures in Paradise titled "The Big Surf," broadcast in 1960, featured two scripted kisses: One between actress Pilar Seurat and actor Robert Sampson, and another with Seurat and Gardner McKay.

I Spy[edit]

An episode of I Spy titled "The Tiger" broadcast on January 5, 1966,[10] featured a scripted interracial kiss between Eurasian actress France Nuyen and Robert Culp.[11]

Movin' with Nancy[edit]

A December 1967 episode of Movin' with Nancy featured a kiss between Nancy Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.[12] Although this was technically the first time a Caucasian kissed an African American on television in the United States, it differed from "Star Trek" in that Sinatra only kissed Davis on the cheek instead of lip-to-lip.

Star Trek[edit]

A 1968 episode of Star Trek, "Plato's Stepchildren",[2][13] which first aired on November 22, 1968, is often referred to as the first interracial kiss on American television. This claim is disputed by some who contend that in the scene in question, full lip contact between William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols did not occur, as the actors turned their heads away from the camera at the last moment to present the illusion of a kiss, meaning that this scene was not a true kiss.[14] The latter point has been disputed, with Shatner claiming that he and Nichols' lips never fully touched and Nichols asserting that the kiss was real.[15]

It is often ignored that "Mirror, Mirror", which originally aired on October 6, 1967, featured a scripted interracial kiss between Eurasian actress Barbara Luna and the aforementioned William Shatner a year prior.[16]

An even earlier interracial kiss, between two women, took place in the episode "What are Little Girls Made Of?", aired on October 20, 1966. The Enterprise receives an urgent message from Dr. Roger Korby (Michael Brown). The famed scientist, missing for five years, is the fiance of crew member, Nurse Christine Chapel (Majel Barrett). While Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) ponders the situation in the foreground, Nurse Chapel heads for the lift to join the away team. Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), congratulates her with a hug and a kiss, apparently on the cheek. (Chapel's head is turned away from the camera.)


  1. ^ Amanda Bidnall The West Indian Generation: Remaking British Culture in London, 1945-1965 "The first on-stage interracial kiss came in 1958 with the performance of Ted Willis's Hot Summer Night, and one year later that same kiss came to the small screen with the play's adaptation for ITV's Armchair Theatre."
  2. ^ a b c Brown, Mark (20 November 2015). "TV archive discovers couple who beat Kirk and Uhura to first interracial kiss". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  3. ^ @DescantDeb. "An Interesting Take on Race and Romance at the 2015 BFI Love Season". The British Blacklist. TBB. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Hot Summer Night – First inter-racial kiss? (01/02/1959)" (video). YouTube. VintageBritishComedy. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  5. ^ Waltres, Guy (28 February 2015). "How much do you really know about Star Trek?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  6. ^ Citron, Lana (2011). A Compendium of Kisses: Facts, Quotes and Curiosities. Harlequin. pp. 188–189. ISBN 037389242X.
  7. ^ Bourne, Steven (2005). Black in the British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television. Bloomsbury. pp. 173–174.
  8. ^ Dowling, Tim (22 April 2009). "Prepare to beam up". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  9. ^ Jaramillo, Juliana (7 July 2015). "Paula Deen's Racist Brownface Stunt Isn't Even Accurate". Slate. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Interracial Kiss: France Nuyen & Robert Culp ("I Spy" Episode 'The Tiger' – Jan. 1st, 1966). YouTube
  12. ^ Brioux, Bill (2008). Truth and Rumors: The Reality Behind TV's Most Famous Myths. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 47. ISBN 0275992470.
  13. ^ Bernardi, Daniel. "Star Trek in the 1960s: Liberal-Humanism and the Production of Race". DePauw University. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
  14. ^ Strikwerda, Robert (1996). Rethinking Masculinity: Philosophical Explorations in Light of Feminism. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 137. ISBN 0847682560.
  15. ^ Nichelle Nichols, Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories, G.P. Putnam & Sons New York, 1994. pp.195–198
  16. ^ Star Trek Interracial Kiss – Barbara Luna and William Shatner. YouTube

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