BBC One to adapt Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses

Here’s an exciting piece of news: BBC One is going to be adapting Malorie Blackman’s novel, Noughts and Crosses, for television.

If you’ve never read it, you absolutely must; Noughts and Crosses is a rather nuanced and thoughtful YA story about racism and prejudice, with a very clever ‘twist’; the society depicted is one wherein black ‘Crosses’ are the ruling classes, who previously enslaved the white ‘Noughts’, who are now second class citizens. This allows for a subtle, clever representation of racism, with several strongly drawn characters, and an emotionally compelling plot. The book was met with particular acclaim, and has been the subject of a radio adaptation in 2012, as well as a play toured by the Royal Shakespeare Company, starring Richard Madden and Ony Uhiara in 2008.

Now, then, it’s going to be a television series. While there isn’t yet word on the length of the series, or exactly when it will air, the two writers in charge of the adaptation have been announced: Levi David Addai and Matthew Graham. Levi David Addai is an accomplished playwright, having written plays such as I Have A Dream and Oxford Street, as well as being nominated for an Olivier award in 2009 and winning the Alfred Fagon award in 2011. His most prominent television credit is E4’s Youngers, but a look at his CV reveals several drama awards and nominations across the years. Matthew Graham is similar accomplished, known for Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, and episodes of Doctor Who under both David Tennant and Matt Smith; interestingly, it was also recently revealed that Graham was tapped to write for a Star Wars television show, and worked closely with George Lucas for several months.

On his appointment, Levi David Addai said this:

“I’m honoured to be trusted with bringing Malorie Blackman’s superb novel to a BBC One audience. It’s a powerful story drawing on themes of hope, love and identity, set in a brilliantly conceived world that makes us think again about our own.”

Similarly, Charlotte Moore, the Controller of BBC One, has commented:

“Noughts and Crosses is the definitive book for a young adult audience and the perfect fit for BBC One. Superb, high octane compulsive storytelling set within an alternative history that explores really relevant themes about race, privilege and how we treat each other.”

Finally, Malorie Blackman herself – an OBE and Children’s Laureate 2013 – 2015 – stated:

“I am beyond thrilled that Noughts and Crosses will be dramatised by the BBC - it couldn’t have found a better home. Callum and Sephy seem to have meant a lot to readers over the years and I’m excited at the prospect of watching them on my TV!”

At this stage, obviously, we also don’t know who’s going to be cast in the series; it has been confirmed, though, that the adaptation will centre around the first book in the series. The series will be produced by Mammoth Screen, a London based company dedicated to creating “high quality, writer-led drama and comedy for British and international broadcasters.”

Have to say, I’m extremely excited about this. I was a huge fan of the series when I read it earlier this year – got through all four books in the space of two days – and I think it’s going to make for some absolutely electric television drama, and could well prove to be particularly relevant even now, albeit perhaps unfortunately so. It’s also really encouraging to see that the BBC is remaining committed to producing top quality drama, as well as encouraging diverse voices.

Related:

4 TV Adaptations of Books you should be excited for

Why Diversity in Television is Important

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