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BBC Orders Steve McQueen’s “Epic” Drama Series on a Black Community in London, From 1968 to 2014

BBC Orders Steve McQueen's "Epic" Drama Series on a Black Community in London, From 1968 to 2014

Over a year ago, in January 2014, Steve McQueen shared in an interview with the UK’s Daily Mail, that he was working on a drama about the lives of black Britons for the BBC. The drama would be “epic in scope” and follow the lives of a group of friends and their families from 1968 to 2014. 
“I don’t think there has been a serious drama series in Britain with black people from all walks of life as the main protagonists,” McQueen said in the interview, and he wants to do something about that.
He added that the project, which was still in its early stages, would be developed over the following year with a writer and group of actors. He said it would be set in London, adding: “This isn’t a black ‘Our Friends in the North'”, referring to the 1996 BBC drama that followed four friends from Newcastle. 

The BBC is teaming up with McQueen and Rainmark Films on the project, sharing that it was “incredibly exciting to be working with the hugely talented British director who has rapidly become one of the finest directors in the world.” 

Skip ahead to today, with news courtesy of a Screen Daily exclusive, that the BBC has formally commissioned its “epic” Steve McQueen drama, which will be produced by “Game of Thrones” producer Frank Doelger via his Rainmark Films banner, and former BBC Films executive Tracey Scoffield, with a spring 2016 shoot date eyed – so still a full year away before filming begins, which means we probably won’t see it until 2017.

Also revealed, it’ll be a 6-episode miniseries, which McQueen will of course direct, and co-write alongside Debbie Tucker Green – a writer and filmmaker whose name and work have been featured on this blog. Most recently, she directed Idris Elba in what was her feature film directing debut “Second Coming,” which world premiered at the London Film Festival last fall (read our review of it here).

“Steve would love it to be on BBC1,” Rainmark managing director Tracey Scoffield told Screen’s sister publication Broadcast. “He wants to reach a very wide audience with this. It is very entertaining and moving. Steve has done a lot of research on it and we’re now working on the script and appointing writers with an eye to shooting next spring.”

In addition to the untitled BBC project, McQueen is also developing a six-part series for HBO, titled “Codes of Conduct,” which follows a young black man from Queens, played by Devon Terrell, who enters New York’s high society. And there’s the remake of the 1980’s British TV series “Widows,” which follows 3 women who are widowed after a heist by their bank robber husbands goes awry, and who then use notebooks they left behind to conduct the crimes themselves. 

It looks like it’ll be a little while before we see the next Steve McQueen big screen project, as he seems focused on TV content right now.

He does have a Paul Robeson biopic on his slate, which he’ll be working on with Harry Belafonte. But I assume that will come after he’s done with both TV series.

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