23/08/2018 10:17 BST

Michaela Coel Recounts Sexual Assault By Strangers When Working On 'Chewing Gum'

It has been announced her new BBC drama will focus on sexual consent.

Michaela Coel has spoken for the first time about being sexually assaulted while working on her sitcom, ‘Chewing Gum’.

Michaela was the creator, writer and star of the E4 comedy, and has now called for greater protection of young writers, after claiming she was pressured into delivering scripts following her sexual assault.

In a lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, Michaela discussed having to work “overnight” on an episode that was due early in the morning, taking a break to have a drink with a friend who wasn’t far away.

Ken Jack - Corbis via Getty Images
Michaela Coel

I emerged into consciousness typing season two, many hours later,” she recalled (via The Guardian). “I had a flashback. It turned out I’d been sexually assaulted by strangers. The first people I called after the police, before my own family, were the producers.”

Michaela continued: “[After the assault] I saw [the ‘Chewing Gum’ team] morph into an anxious team of employers and employees alike; teetering 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?”

Channel 4
Michaela in character as Tracey in 'Chewing Gum'

This lecture came as it was announced that Michaela was to write a new BBC drama, titled ‘Jan 22nd’, centring around themes of sexual consent and assault.

She will also star as the show’s lead character, a woman “whose sexual adventures frequently collide with a world in which new codes of sexual practice are emerging”.

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