‘Small Axe’: BBC Unveils First-Look At Steve McQueen Period Drama

The BBC has unveiled the first images of Small Axe, its period drama from 12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen. Amazon has U.S. rights.

The series, which is set in London’s West Indian community between the 1960s-80s, stars Black Panther’s Letitia Wright and Star Wars‘ John Boyega

Malachi Kirby (Roots), Shaun Parkes (Lost In Space), Rochenda Sandall (Line Of Duty), Alex Jennings (Victoria) and Jack Lowden (Mary Queen Of Scots) also star.

The show is a six-part anthology series that tells five stories set within London’s West Indian community from the late 1960s to the early 80s. The Oscar-winning writer and director has said that the series will tell the story of a West Indian community in the heart of London across three decades, beginning at the moment of Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech in 1968.

It starts in 1968, when a small restaurant called The Mangrove opens in Ladbroke Grove, a place of camaraderie and friendship that becomes a social heart for the community – and, over time, a flashpoint for resistance.

The long-gestating series will comprise six parts and tell five different stories. Its title is derived from a Jamaican proverb: “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe,” meaning that relatively marginal or small voices of dissent can successfully challenge more powerful ones. It is also the title of a Bob Marley song from his 1973 album Catch a Fire.

McQueen created the series’ stories with Alastair Siddons and Courttia Newland. Novelist Alex Wheatle is a writing consultant. Turbine Studios is producing with Lammas Park. Anita Overland is also producing, as is Mike Elliot for EMU Films. Tracey Scoffield and David Tanner will exec-produce for Turbine. The show was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, director of BBC Content, and the executive producer for the BBC is Lucy Richer.

The series will bow on BBC One next year with Amazon in the U.S. and BBC Studios is handling international distribution.

Turbine Studios’ Tracey Scoffield exec produces with David Tanner producing. It was commissioned by BBC content chief Charlotte Moore and former BBC drama boss Polly Hill.

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