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David Olusoga, Adil Ray, Meera Syal Among Celebrities Urging U.K. Ethnic Minorities to Take Up COVID-19 Vaccine

A raft of British celebrities from Black, Asian and other mixed heritage backgrounds are encouraging ethnic minorities to take up the COVID-19 vaccine in a video campaign.

The campaign, which is led by “Citizen Khan” co-creator and actor Adil Ray, was first revealed by the actor online in January. It dispels myths about the vaccine as it has emerged in recent days that those from Black and mixed heritage backgrounds are more sceptical of the jab and aren’t getting vaccinated at the same levels.

The video features historian and presenter David Olusoga, Olympian Denise Lewis, “Yesterday” actors Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar, singer Beverley Knight, comedian Romesh Ranganathan and cricketer Moeen Ali, among others.

At 9:56pm on Thursday, U.K. public service broadcasters ITV, Channel 4, STV, Channel 5 and pay TV operator Sky, will air the video simultaneously. The BBC, which is prohibited from participating in campaigns because of a provision it its charter, will cover it on radio and TV programs.

“We are in unprecedented times and the fact remains this pandemic disproportionately affects people from ethnic minority communities,” Ray said. “The message is simple: take the vaccine, save lives.”

The campaign is also backed by Prince Charles, who said he is “saddened” by the “variable uptake” of the vaccine.

Tim Davie, director-general of the BBC, said: “Vaccinations will make a vital difference. That’s why the issues raised by this film are so incredibly important. It is crucial that everyone knows the truth about vaccines. We know there is lots of misinformation online and elsewhere. That’s why the BBC will be looking at the issues raised so extensively.”

“Encouraging take-up of the vaccine will save lives. That’s why ITV has worked with the other broadcasters to create a unique ‘roadblock’ simultaneous transmission so that this message is delivered to the most people at the same time,” said ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall.

Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon said the campaign would penetrate the channel’s significant reach among diverse audiences, while Stephen van Rooyen, Sky CEO for U.K. and Europe, added: “Sky is proud to be part of the biggest roadblock in television history, to tackle one of the biggest challenges that we have ever faced and make a difference to so many lives.”

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