It has been an eye-opening 24 hours for the U.K. film and TV industries as the fall-out continues from bombshell sexual misconduct and harassment allegations against British actor Noel Clarke. (Check out Variety’s explainer about Clarke and his career to date.)
In the course of just one day, the 45-year-old actor-producer has been dropped from his management and suspended by BAFTA; production on the latest season of his police procedural show “Bulletproof” has been halted; U.S. network The CW has cut ties with the series; and his co-star and close friend Ashley Walters has spoken out against him.
All3Media, the super-indie backers of Clarke’s production company Unstoppable Film and Television, has also suspended the actor and his business partner Jason Maza. As revealed exclusively by Variety, All3Media opened a probe into Clarke’s activities with Unstoppable on Thursday, just hours after the allegations were first published by The Guardian.
“In light of the recent allegations, Noel Clarke and Jason Maza were suspended on Friday morning from Unstoppable Film and Television while we look into this matter,” an All3Media spokesperson told Variety.
The 45-year-old actor is facing numerous claims from 20 women, all of whom have worked with him in a professional setting. Claims unveiled in the Guardian investigation include: sexual harassment, unwanted touching or groping, sexually inappropriate behaviour and comments on set, professional misconduct, taking and sharing sexually explicit pictures and videos without consent, and bullying between 2004 and 2019.
Clarke denies all allegations except for one: he has admitted to repeatedly making inappropriate comments about one woman’s body, Helen Atherton, and later apologizing.
The actor released a fresh statement on Friday evening, noting that he’s seeking professional help. However, he “vehemently” denies any sexual misconduct or criminal wrongdoing.
Also caught in the crosshairs is the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), which gave the actor its Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award earlier this month. The org announced Clarke as this year’s recipient on March 29, and maintains that it wasn’t made aware of the allegations until after this date. However, even after senior leadership learned of claims against Clarke, BAFTA went ahead with the award and Clarke accepted the honor as part of a televised ceremony on April 10.
The Guardian on Friday evening released a second piece of reporting around the scandal, detailing BAFTA’s decision-making process after becoming aware of brewing allegations.
The outlet revealed that industry figures including award-winning film director Sally El Hosaini, talent development manager and former BAFTA employee Pelumi Akindude and actor James Krishna Floyd, a 2013 BAFTA Breakthrough Brit award winner, went to the org after Clarke’s award was announced, flagging their “extreme concern” and suggesting BAFTA conduct its own due diligence around him.
While BAFTA chair Krishnendu Majumdar was evidently distressed about the org’s difficult position, he made it clear that further action couldn’t be taken without direct testimony from a victim. However, the report notes that El Hosaini had told Majumdar and chief executive Amanda Berry in a Zoom call that women were afraid of going directly to BAFTA due to Clarke’s influence in the industry.
Ultimately, “BAFTA’s lawyers said the information it had received did not enable it to take any action or warrant suspending the award,” reports The Guardian. “They point out that intermediaries were unable to put them in direct contact with women making allegations.”
Speaking to The Guardian, Akindude describes the revelations as “a call for BAFTA and other institutions to look at how they’re awarding their honours. Are they carrying out due diligence? If you’re selecting someone for an honour like that, are you checking they’re running their sets properly?”