Michaela Coel has said she was sexually assaulted while making her comedy Chewing Gum.
The actress said the incident happened when she was working late on the second series of her show.
During a speech at the Edinburgh TV festival, she said: ‘I had an episode due at 7 a.m. I took a break and had a drink with a good friend who was nearby.
‘I emerged into consciousness typing season two, many hours later. I was lucky. I had a flashback. It turned out I’d been sexually assaulted by strangers.’
Michaela claimed that producers went ‘back and forth between the line of knowing what normal human empathy is and not knowing what empathy is at all’.
‘When there are police involved, and footage, of people carrying your sleeping writer into dangerous places, when cuts are found, when there’s blood … what is your job?’ she said.
She added that the head of comedy at Channel 4 hadn’t been informed of what happened to her, but she attended therapy sessions paid for by the production company.
Michaela went on: ‘Like any other experience I’ve found traumatic, it’s been therapeutic to write about it, and actively twist a narrative of pain into one of hope, and even humour, and be able to share it with you, as part of a fictional drama on television, because I think transparency helps.’
Channel 4 responded in a statement posted on Twitter, saying Michaela ‘has opened an honest debate about how we ensure that writers and performers, whatever their backgrounds, feel respected and heard.’
Response from Channel 4 Director of Programmes, to Michaela Coel’s 2018 MacTaggart lecture.
— Channel 4 Press ()
‘We want an industry that truly celebrates difference and is accessible to all, so broadcasters and producers now need to work in partnership to act on the issues she has raised.’
Michaela was giving the keynote James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival on Wednesday.