Marina Salandy-Brown

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Marina Salandy-Brown FRSA is a Trinidadian journalist, broadcaster and cultural activist. She was formerly an editor and Senior Manager in Radio and News and Current Affairs programmes with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in London,[1] one of the BBC's few top executives from an ethnic minority background.[2] She is the founder and director of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest,[3][4] held annually in Trinidad and Tobago, "the biggest literary festival in the Anglophone Caribbean",[5][6] and of the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.[7][8] She is also co-founder of the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize.[9][10]


She was born Marina Salandy in Diego Martin, Trinidad - she has said, "all Salandys apparently started there, but I come from everywhere in Trinidad. Although I was a town girl, my father ran government experimental (agricultural) stations and we were lucky enough to also live all over rural Trinidad. I lived in Maracas, St Joseph, when you had to go down into the river five times before getting to our house at the end of the road. When we lived in Matelot, the road wasn’t properly paved."[11] She attended the government secondary school in Diego Martin.[12]

Career in Britain[edit]

At the age of 17 Salandy-Brown left Trinidad and migrated to Britain to attend university.[12] In London, she began her working life in publishing as an editor with the Melrose Press,[13] after which she was for more than 20 years an editor and senior manager in BBC Radio and News and Current Affairs programmes, until her return to Trinidad in 2004.[14]

Among the BBC radio programmes she produced was BBC Radio 4's Start the Week, presented by Melvyn Bragg, who has recalled the beginning of their successful long-term collaboration: "I met this producer Marina Salandy-Brown and neither she nor I wanted to go on doing the same Start the Week. I remember we had lunch together – and I said, 'Well, if I'm going to go on I want to do this sort of stuff,’ And she said, 'So do I' – or she said it first and I agreed…. And then we just conscientiously, steadily put that into operation and changed the programme."[15] In their new styling of the programme, "The producer, Marina Salandy-Brown, and I introduced scientists, historians and philosophers on to that Monday morning slot, and changed the nature of the programme. A change which I am glad that my successor Jeremy Paxman and his successor Andrew Marr have kept."[16]

Other programmes Salandy-Brown produced for BBC Radio 4 included the series Work Talk (1991–92), presented by Ferdinand Dennis,[17] and Book at Bedtime, a 1993 edition featuring Lawrence Scott's novel Witchbroom, abridged by Margaret Busby.[18]

As Home Editor of BBC Radio 5 Live, Salandy-Brown was concerned with implementing a diversity policy,[19] arguing in 2002 that "there is no point having diverse people if you don’t allow them to be diverse".[20] She explained the context:

"When I joined the BBC in 1984 there were no people of colour working in radio production in the four national domestic services, except one producer from India.... On BBC TV there was one Caribbean woman news presenter, Moira Stuart.... I was determined not to be the first and last Caribbean person to be a BBC radio producer. I immediately started making programmes about people whose voices were never heard by the British public. I made programmes that promoted Caribbean and developing country cultures, politics and people.... The programmes won prizes and proved that there was a world of stories out there to be told and that all people could be included in the BBC without outraging the British public. They just had to be the very best in quality. I was able to recruit researchers and producers of non-European origin to my production teams.... I also introduced new non-European presenters and subjects to the airwaves.[21] My success paved the way for others to follow as staff members and as presenters....And, even when the argument was won over hiring a work force that represented the population, myopic editors would often pigeon-hole non-white producers and presenters."[22]

Salandy-Brown was a governor of the University of Westminster,[1] a member of the Arts Council Literature panel, and a former trustee of the Koestler Awards to support and fund Arts in prisons in the UK. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).[13][23]

Return to Trinidad[edit]

Returning to Trinidad in 2004 to be with her mother,[11] Salandy-Brown has since 2005 contributed a weekly commentary column to the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.[24] She is a consultant to the Trinidad & Tobago Film Company and was formerly Executive Director of the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival.[25][26] She also works across the Caribbean as a media consultant.[13] She was a contributor to the book Caribbean Dispatches - Beyond the Tourist Dream, compiled and edited by Jane Bryce.[27]

Salandy-Brown has spoken of her realisation after returning to Trinidad that locally "There was no place for people who read to get together, in a forum to talk about books and there were so many Caribbean writers abroad who had not been to other islands — something was missing."[28] As she stated in 2011: "In Britain there are a hundred and how many literary festivals. Little Dominica, which is so poor and so tiny, has a literary festival. Jamaica had one for 10 years, the Calabash. I think Antigua has one. Why didn't we have one, when we've produced so many great writers? Sam Selvon and these people really made an impact on the world stage. Earl Lovelace is treasured, but not treasured enough, because we don’t have prizes. There’s been no accolade of Earl’s writing since the 1970s. It’s important to reward creative effort! We created a literary festival but we also created an international prize for Caribbean writing."[11] So she and a group of like-minded people launched the Bocas Lit Fest in April 2011, together with the Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.[29]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 1988 Salandy-Brown won the Sony Silver Award for Most Creative Use of Radio, and 1994 she was named Radio Journalist of the Year.[28] She also won Programme of the Year, UK Television and Radio Industries Club, in 1990,[22] and a Sony Gold Award, Best News Programme in 2000 for BBC Radio.[28]

In 1992, she won the New York Festivals Award, Silver.[22]

In 2005, she was awarded an honorary doctorate (DLitt) by the University of Westminster.[30]

In 2012, she was recognised by for her achievements in the Arts in the UK during the last 50 years with an award at the Trinidad and Tobago Independence Jubilee celebrations.[31]

In 2013, she was among six persons to be conferred with honorary doctorates from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine,[13][32][33] when in October the Chancellor George A. O. Alleyne presented her with the Doctor of Letters (DLitt), Honoris Causa of the UWI.[34]


  1. ^ a b Court of Governors, University of Westminster.
  2. ^ Tessa Blackstone, Bhikhu Parekh, Peter Sanders (eds), Race Relations in Britain: A Developing Agenda, Routledge, 1998.
  3. ^ Maya Jaggi, "A homecoming", Financial Times, 27 May 2011.
  4. ^ The NGC Bocas Lit Fest – The Trinidad and Tobago Literary Festival.
  5. ^ "NGC Bocas Lit Fest Debate on TV6 today", Trinidad Express Newspapers, 22 April 2012.
  6. ^ Carolyn Cooper, "T&T Lit Fest Puts Us to Shame", Jamaica Gleaner, 8 May 2011.
  7. ^ "New Annual Prize For Caribbean Literature To Be Launched", Book2Book, 23 November 2010.
  8. ^ "Entries open for 2012 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean", Trinidad Express Newspapers, 15 September 2011.
  9. ^ Marina Salandy-Vrown biography, Conference Programme, June 2012, p. 12, The Literary Consultancy.
  10. ^ "Announcing the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize"[permanent dead link], 1 May 2012, NGC Bocas Lit Fest 2012.
  11. ^ a b c B. C. Pires, "A Trini literary festival", Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, 1 May 2011.
  12. ^ a b "A Trini Lit Fest" Archived 2015-12-07 at the Wayback Machine.,
  13. ^ a b c d "UWI St Augustine Campus names six Honorary Graduands", UWI Campus News, 11 June 2013.
  14. ^ Dennis Conway, “The Return of Youthful Trinidadian Transnational Professionals: Their Potential as a ‘Brain Gain’?”, Conference on "Trans-Atlantic Perspectives on International Migration: Cross Border Impacts, Border Security, and Socio-Political Responses", 5 March 2010.
  15. ^ Simon Elmes, And Now on Radio 4: A Celebration of the World's Best Radio Station, Random House Books, 2007, pp.72–3.
  16. ^ Melvyn Bragg (ed.), "Introduction", In Our Time: A Companion to the Radio 4 Series, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2009.
  17. ^ "Work Talk", Radio Listings.
  18. ^ "A Book at Bedtime: Witchbroom" Radio Times, Issue 3624, 17 June 1993, p. 125.
  19. ^ "Case study: Monitoring Radio Five Live", BBC Diversity booklet, p. 6.
  20. ^ Joy Francis, "BBC still showing its 'hideously white' face”, The Guardian (London), 13 May 2002.
  21. ^ Akbar S. Ahmed, Postmodernism and Islam: Predicament and Promise, Routledge, 1992, p. 1952.
  22. ^ a b c "Start Me Up - Honorary Graduand Marina Salandy-Brown", UWI Today.
  23. ^ "Sarah's Backchat from the Bocas Litfest", 6 June 2013.
  24. ^ See, for instance, Marina Salandy-Brown, "Infinite possibilities", Newsday, Thursday, 14 June 2012.
  25. ^ "Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival 2009 - interview with Marina Salandy Brown, Maria Govan Filmmaker". YouTube.
  26. ^ "Minister of Trade and Industry to attend gala opening of TT Film Festival", Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
  27. ^ Marina Salandy-Brown, "Put me down whey yuh pick me up", in Jane Bryce (ed.), Caribbean Dispatches - Beyond the Tourist Dream, Macmillan Caribbean, 2006, p. 201.
  28. ^ a b c Essiba Small, "Marina Salandy-Brown - Bringing readers & writers together", Trinidad Express Newspapers, 15 March 2013.
  29. ^ A. J. Theolade, "Bocas Lit Fest continues to blossom", Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, 23 April 2014.
  30. ^ Contact, NGC Bocas Lit Fest.
  31. ^ "T&T nationals get awards in UK", Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, 7 October 2012.
  32. ^ "Six Receive Honorary Doctorates From UWI", Trinidad Express Newspapers, 15 June 2013.
  33. ^ "Ex-bishop to get UWI doctorate", Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, 14 June 2013.
  34. ^ Shaliza Hassanali, "Salandy-Brown tells UWI graduands: After hubris comes the fall", Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Media, 27 October 2013.

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