After topping the BAFTA nominations (including a record-breaking 15 for Small Axe, 8 for I May Destroy You and 7 for Normal People), and the unprecedented success of Line of Duty (becoming the UK’s most watched drama series of the 21st century), Piers Wenger, BBC Director of Drama, today announced six new commissions, further illustrating quality and ambitious dramas that are pushing the boundaries.
Dolly Alderton will be adapting her much-loved autobiography ‘Everything I Know About Love’, the BIFA-winning writer of ‘Rocks’, Theresa Ikoko, will adapt soon-to-be-published novel ‘Wahala’ and “voice of a new generation” Cash Carraway pens ‘Cash Carraway (w/t), inspired by her darkly funny debut memoir and starring BAFTA winner Daisy May Cooper.
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.
Wenger also revealed that he is working on a new project with the multi-talented Michaela Coel, after their remarkable collaboration on I May Destroy You. The first still of highly-anticipated BBC One drama The Tourist was also released.
Piers Wenger said: “I am incredibly proud of drama on the BBC and how its popularity, range and ambition is being recognised by viewers and critics alike. Seeing Small Axe, I May Destroy You and Normal People receive a record number of BAFTA nominations and Line of Duty becoming the biggest drama of the 21st Century is staggering and humbling.
We pride ourselves on the creative contribution we make and the value we offer to audiences. We will continue to build on the momentum of recent years to ensure that the BBC is and continues to be the home of the very best of British drama.
In the next few months alone, our dramas will feature world-class screen talent such as Emily Blunt, Ben Whishaw, Paul Bettany, Claire Foy, Colin Farrell, Jamie Dornan, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Martin Freeman, as well as rising stars Erin Doherty, Bukky Bakray, Malachi Kirby, Connor Swindells, Shalom Brune-Franklin and Nicôle Lecky. And I’m delighted to announce these new commissions today, from writers who are already striking a chord with the British public: Cash, Dolly and Candice with their incredible books, Theresa with the astounding Rocks, Stefan, who following the huge success of Mum and Him & Her is turning his hand to hour-long drama, and not least of all the legendary Shane Meadows, who is working with the BBC for the first time on a historical drama which is destined to feel utterly of the moment. And finally, I’m thrilled to say we will be working with the unequalled Michaela Coel on another project, more news about that to follow in due course…”
An original drama series from Candice Carty-Williams, the award-winning writer of Sunday Times bestseller Queenie, Champion tells the story of what happens when fame collides with family.
Bosco Champion. The golden boy of the Champion family and a UK rap sensation before he was jailed is home from prison, and he’s ready to dominate the music industry once more. 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. Even their parents, soundman turned radio DJ Beres and nineties R&B one hit wonder Aria, can’t stop Bosco and Vita from splitting the Champion family down the middle as they go head to head in a very public and messy battle. In fact, it might be in their best interests to keep Bosco and Vita apart… A love letter to Black British music set in south London, Champion is the celebration of a sound that has long been the beating heart of our culture.
Candice Carty-Williams said: “Champion is a celebration of black music and a black family, however fragmented that family might be. Since I knew what music was, I’ve loved grime and UK rap and neo-soul, to the point of obsession, and to bring to a primetime slot a series that gives these genres of music life and texture is absolutely amazing, as is getting to work with some of the best producers making music today to create original tracks for the show. I can’t think of anywhere else Champion could sit but the BBC and I’m looking forward to everyone seeing a show that they have never seen before.”
Everything I Know About Love
Adapted by award-winning journalist Dolly Alderton from her own wildly funny, occasionally heartbreaking, internationally bestselling memoir of the same name, Everything I Know About Love, gives an unflinching account of surviving your 20s.
Maggie and Birdy, besties since school, finally land in London to live it large, when the unexpected happens – dependable Birdy gets a steady boyfriend. A generous, funny, warm-hearted and uplifting Sex & The City for Millennials which covers bad dates and squalid flat-shares, heartaches and humiliations, and, most importantly, unbreakable female friendships.
Dolly Alderton said: “Everything I Know About Love is a semi-fictionalised adaptation of my memoir of the same name. It’s a messy, boisterous, joyful, romantic comedy about two best female friends from childhood and what happens when they move in to their first London house share and the first phase of adulthood. I cannot stress enough how thrilled I am that it is being made by Working Title and the BBC.”
The Gallows Pole
Written by Shane Meadows, his first-ever BBC television drama, The Gallows Pole, is based on the novel of the same name by Benjamin Myers and fictionalises the remarkable 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 eighteenth century Yorkshire, the compelling drama follows the enigmatic David 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.
Shane Meadows said, “The Gallows Pole is an incredible true story, little known outside of Yorkshire, about a group of very naughty men and women who started clipping and counterfeiting coins out in the Moors, as a way to keep themselves and their community alive. I’ve never made a period drama before so I’m absolutely buzzing, and to be doing it with Piers at the BBC, his incredible team, and Element Pictures is nothing short of an honour.”
From two time BAFTA winning writer-director, Stefan Golaszewski comes Marriage, a four-part drama about a couple who need each other.
The show examines in intimate detail the fears, frustrations and salvation of marriage and the comfort that can only be found in togetherness.
Stefan Golaszewski said, “Marriage is a show about a couple but there’s more to it than that obviously! It’s great to be working with the BBC again. They’ve been amazing during the development of the idea and encouraged me to write what I want to write. It feels like a real privilege.”
Cash Carraway (w/t)
Inspired by her book Skint Estate, Cash Carraway (w/t) is a wild and punky tale of being trapped below the poverty line and doing everything it takes to escape. Daisy May Cooper (This Country) stars as a young working class single mum living with her ten year old daughter in the brutal lonely landscape of austerity Britain. Told with a dark lick of humour and an anarchic attitude, Cash Carraway (w/t) skewers stereotypes of what it means to be working class and underlines the importance of love, dreams and friendships.
Cash Carraway said: “The show is a about a brash yet intelligent working-class single mum who not only lives in extreme inner-city poverty but a state of ridicule and humiliation as she attempts to improve her life. She’s immoral and shocking and purposefully vile, and swaggerous and quite amazing really – but obviously, I would say that as it’s inspired by my life! Luckily the role will be played by the brilliant Daisy May Cooper who I know will give her warmth and humour and a performance that says “f-you” to the expectations of how women perceived to be at the bottom of society are expected to behave. It isn’t a woeful tale of poverty porn, it’s a love story in the detritus between a mother and her daughter. A woman who refuses to hand over her spirit regardless of how hard it’s kicked in, and it’s an absolute dream to write this drama for the BBC and Sid Gentle Films.”
Adapted by BAFTA-nominated writer Theresa Ikoko from Nikki May’s soon to be published debut novel of the same name, Wahala follows three thirty-something Anglo-Nigerian female friends living in London, successfully navigating a world that mixes roast dinners with jollof rice.
Simi, Ronke and Boo have been best friends for years, sharing every aspect of their careers, family lives and relationships with one another. 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.
Theresa Ikoko said: “I can’t wait to bring Nikki May’s amazing book Wahala to the screen with BBC and Firebird. It is a fantastic, intriguing, suspenseful story of friendship, rivalry secrecy and revenge, think Big Little Lies meets Girlfriends meets Peckham! It’s also a really amazing celebration of Nigerian British culture, which I’m a proud flag-bearer of, so it’s going to be a lot of the correct jollof rice, awe-inspiring geles and breath-taking moments, we hope you love it!”