Axe, co-written and directed by Steve McQueen (Widows, 12 Years A
Slave), encapsulates the proverb from which it’s inspired. Set within
London’s West Indian community between the late 60s and mid-80s, the series tells
five stories of black defiance.
As McQueen says in a recent statement: 'I dedicate these films to George Floyd and all the other black people that have been murdered, seen or unseen, because of who they are, in the US, UK and elsewhere. "If you are the big tree, we are the small axe." Black Lives Matter.'
Here’s everything we know about the series.
BBC One air date: Sunday 15 November
opens the anthology with Mangrove, examining the Mangrove Nine trial in
1970. Nine anti-racist protestors were locked up after demonstrating in Notting
Hill, all of whom frequented the popular Mangrove restaurant in the area. White
police officers frequently raided that restaurant, causing considerable
distress to the owner Frank Crichlow. Crichlow was among the Nine, as was Black
Panther activist Altheia Jones-LeCointe.
The trial served as one of the first
public indictments against systemic racism within the police and the brutality
they enforce. Black Panther actor Letitia Wright portrays Jones-LeCointe, and
Shaun Parkes plays Crichlow.
BBC One air date: Sunday 22 November
Michael Ward and Amarah-Jae St Aubyn. Photo: BBC
are many scenes spread across Small Axe in which McQueen revels in the West Indian community just having a good time. Although Lovers
Rock (set in a west London house party) is too indulgent at times, its
ambition to spend most of its 70 minutes dancing to Janet Kay, Sister Sledge and Carl Douglas is commendable.
The music, the food, and the sexual atmosphere wafts
into every room – mixing with the visual aromas of weed and alcohol. The house
is a refuge, an escape from the prejudice outside.
Red, White and Blue
BBC One air date: Sunday 29 November
John Boyega as Leroy Logan. Photo: BBC
been a great year for John Boyega. After being released from the latest Star Wars franchise, he’s spoken openly about racist issues. His speech at the BLM
protests in Hyde Park has been viewed over a million times on YouTube.
stars in Red, White and Blue, exemplifying his new career direction after
starships and lightsabres. He portrays Leroy Logan, a black Met police officer in
the 80s who joined up to change the system from within. The film shows Logan’s
early career, working through the training regime and surviving in the Greater
London police department. He faces petulant racism from his white
colleagues, and he's treated as a traitor by those closest to him.
BBC One air date: Sunday 6 December
Director Steve McQueen with actor Sheyi Cole, who plays Alex Wheatle. Photo: BBC
first approached the popular YA novelist Alex Wheatle in 2016, in the hope of
reflecting the black community in a future TV series. Penned by McQueen and
co-writer Alastair Siddons (Tomb Raider), Alex Wheatle tells the story
of the author's fraught childhood and adolescence.
Wheatle was thrown into Shirley Oakes
children’s home, later revealed to be a nest for mental, physical, and sexual
abuse. (The Shirley Oakes Survivors Association was set up in 2014 to bring
this knowledge to light.) At 15, he moved to Brixton and participated in the 1981
Brixton riots – landing him in jail. These experiences would later spill into Wheatle’s
BBC One air date: Sunday 13 December
Kenya Sandy stars as 12-year-old Kingsley. Photo: BBC
Naomie Ackie (The End of the F***ing World) and newcomer Kenya Sandy, Education
follows 12-year-old Kingsley (Sandy) as he's removed from school because
of ‘disruptive behaviour’. He’s sent to a special needs school instead, but the
local West Indian women see something wrong in the system: an unofficial
segregation policy. They decide to take matters into their own hands.
|What||Small Axe, BBC One: trailer, release date, plot, cast, photos|
15 Nov 20 – 15 Nov 21, ON BBC ONE / iPLAYER
|Website||Click here for more information|