- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
The BBC has unveiled a new slate of six drama commissions, including series about three Anglo-Nigerian female friends living in London, a “love letter to Black British music,” an exploration of marriage and a period drama about a band of counterfeiters.
The U.K. public broadcaster touted the new commissions as “telling ground-breaking stories from the most singular and sought-after talent in the U.K.,” saying they are all “quality and ambitious dramas that are pushing the boundaries.”
Piers Wenger, director of BBC Drama, during a virtual event with members of the press also confirmed that Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You) was developing a new project for the BBC, but said he didn’t have details to share yet as it was in “early stages.”
Following the coronavirus pandemic that has affected productions worldwide, “we are going to get back to normal pretty soon,” the executive also argued. He added that pandemic delays mean that “we don’t have all the titles in all the slots that we usually have, but it does feel that we are getting back on track,” with a “massive” 86 shows ramping up for or in production.
He also highlighted that the public broadcaster’s key and distinct role in the competitive streaming world is a focus on Britishness and British voices. “In 2021, there are many places for audiences to access premium content. But it is our commitment to creative risk and our passion for Britain’s stand-out writing talent which ensures that even in the age of global streamers, we are able to win big,” he said.
Given that there are “so many new entrants,” including the likes of Disney+, in streaming and deep-pocketed global competitors, the BBC has to focus on what makes it different, Wenger explained. “It’s about British authorship,” he said. “That’s why we doubled down on Britishness.”
About the new shows, he said some of them would help “shine a light on some corner of Britain that hasn’t necessarily been center stage before,” among other things. “I am incredibly proud of drama on the BBC and how its popularity, range and ambition is being recognized by viewers and critics alike,” he said.
The BBC also highlighted how key the creators of the projects and their voices are. “Candice Carty-Williams, author of bestselling novel Queenie, takes on her first TV project, an original drama series, the two-time BAFTA-winning writer-director of Mum, Stefan Golaszewski, turns his hand to drama for the first time and multi-award winning and revered writer-director Shane Meadows will tackle his first period drama, also his first ever drama for the BBC,” it said.
On Tuesday, the BBC also announced that Noughts + Crosses will return for a second season. The drama, produced by Mammoth Screen, is based on the novels with the same title by Malorie Blackman. Season 2 “will dive viewers straight back into the dangerous, alternate world of Malorie Blackman’s bestselling novels and the irresistible, forbidden love story at its heart,” the BBC said.
Wenger said the new drama series are set to contribute to the BBC’s goal of producing more content in Britain’s regions and especially outside of London.
Wenger has been in his role since 2016. Before it, he served as head of drama at Channel 4 for four years. Prior to that, he was head of drama at BBC Wales and an executive producer on BBC hit show Doctor Who.
Here is a look at the six new commissions:
The original drama series from Candice Carty-Williams, the writer of bestseller Queenie, tells “the story of what happens when fame collides with family.” Bosco Champion, the golden boy of the Champion family and a rap sensation, is back home from prison and “ready to dominate the music industry once more,” according to a plot description. “Since she can remember, his younger sister Vita has been his personal assistant, running around after him, getting him out of trouble and hiding his various misdemeanours. But when Vita’s own talent is discovered by Bosco’s rival, Belly, she steps out of her brother’s shadow to become a performer in her own right, setting the Champion siblings against one another in their quest to both reach the top spot in the charts, and to be the star of the family.”
The BBC described the series as a “love letter to Black British music set in south London.”
Champion is executive produced by Jo McClellan for the BBC, Bryan Elsley, Dave Evans and Danielle Scott-Haughton for Balloon Entertainment, Charlie Pattinson, Willow Grylls and Imogen O’Sullivan for New Pictures, part of All3Media, and Carty-Williams. Further writers include Isis Davis, Emma Dennis-Edwards, Ameir Brown and Edem Wornoo.
Everything I Know About Love
Adapted by journalist Dolly Alderton from her own bestselling memoir of the same name, the show will provide “an unflinching account of surviving your 20s,” according to the BBC.
‘Maggie and Birdy, besties since school, finally land in London to live it large, when the unexpected happens – dependable Birdy gets a steady boyfriend,” reads the plot description.
Everything I Know About Love is executive produced by McClellan for the BBC, Alderton, and Surian Fletcher-Jones, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner for Working Title Television, which is part of NBCUniversal International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group.
The Gallows Pole
Written by Shane Meadows, his first-ever BBC television drama is based on the novel of the same name by Benjamin Myers and fictionalizes the true story of the rise and fall of David Hartley and the Cragg Vale Coiners.
Set against the backdrop of the coming industrial revolution in 18th century Yorkshire, the show follows the enigmatic Hartley as he “assembles a gang of weavers and land-workers to embark upon a revolutionary criminal enterprise that will capsize the economy and become the biggest fraud in British history.”
The Gallows Pole will be produced by Element Pictures and executive produced by Wenger and Tom Lazenby for the BBC.
The four-part drama from writer-director and two-time BAFTA winner Stefan Golaszewski is “about a couple who need each other,” said the BBC. “The show examines in intimate detail the fears, frustrations and salvation of marriage and the comfort that can only be found in togetherness.”
Marriage is executive produced by Tommy Bulfin for the BBC, Beth Willis and George Faber for The Forge and Richard Laxton and Golaszewski for The Money Men.
Cash Carraway (working title)
Inspired by Carraway’s book Skint Estate, this is “a wild and punky tale of being trapped below the poverty line and doing everything it takes to escape,” said the BBC.
Daisy May Cooper (This Country) stars as a young, working-class single mum living with her 10- year-old daughter in the lonely landscape of austerity Britain. “Told with a dark lick of humor and an anarchic attitude, Cash Carraway (working title) skewers stereotypes of what it means to be working-class and underlines the importance of love, dreams and friendships.”
The show is executive produced by McClellan for the BBC, Sally Woodward Gentle and Lee Morris for Sid Gentle Films and Carraway.
Adapted by writer Theresa Ikoko from Nikki May’s soon to be published debut novel of the same name, Wahala follows “three 30-something Anglo-Nigerian female friends living in London, successfully navigating a world that mixes roast dinners with jollof rice,” the BBC said.
“Simi, Ronke and Boo have been best friends for years, sharing every aspect of their careers, family lives and relationships with one another,” it added. “But when the beautiful, charismatic and super wealthy Isobel infiltrates their friendship group, mounting tensions, unravelling bonds and unearthed secrets have shocking and tragic consequences.”
Wahala is executive produced by Mona Qureshi for the BBC and Elizabeth Kilgarriff for Firebird Pictures.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day
The Flight Attendant