Doctor Who alum and alleged serial sexual harasser Noel Clarke was suspended by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts on Friday after allegations by 20 different women surfaced in the Guardian newspaper. The organization had been made aware of the allegations two weeks previous but failed to take action, despite planning an awards ceremony for the actor. Clarke was awarded the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema on April 10; it was only after the Guardian piece ran on the 29th that BAFTA suspended the actor, claiming that prior to the report they only had anonymous emails and third-party statements to go by. This statement would hold more water were it not 2021 and if a lawyer did not tell the Guardian that the organization had no duty to investigate the allegations. The irony is that it was their decision not to act that prompted many of the women to speak to reporters, thus demonstrating how organizations are often their own worst enemy.
Clarke might have gotten his first real taste of fame with Doctor Who but it didn’t end there. He has starred in over 60 productions and written his own award-winning independent trilogy; Kidhood,Adulthood, and Brotherhood, and he also directed the last two. It would be an impressive resume had he allegedly not spent the entire time sexually harassing many of the women over whom he held power. This includes staff being sexually propositioned and harassed as well as a number of actresses who state that not only would he touch them inappropriately but that he would also take videos and photos without their consent, including during nude auditions, and that material was shared with others. Jahannah James, one of the few to comment publicly, given Clarke’s sway over British media, stated on Twitter that after discovering he’d taped her without consent she spoke to police, only to be told they could only investigate if Clarke threatened to release the footage.
None of this, unfortunately, feels shocking. Not after Cosby, Spacey, Whedon, and other seemingly affable media personalities have demonstrated the vast gulf between public persona and private person. Power, influence, and charm provide the opportunity for unethical behavior, and if we’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that nothing’s gotten “worse,” be it police brutality or unwanted sexual advances from men in power. The only change is that they’re no longer protected as assiduously as they once were by studios and PR firms, who now find it expeditious to drop celebrities as soon as their bad deeds are publicized. Not before, of course. That’s crazy talk. It remains to be seen if Clarke faces any long-term ramifications for his actions, and he has categorically denied the accusations.
Image sources (in order of posting): Getty Images, Mike Marsland