Oscar winning director Steve McQueen to make a six-part BBC1 drama about London’s West Indian community

The Londoner who won a best picture Academy Award for 12 Years a Slave is to make the landmark series spanning the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s

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Oscar winning director Steve McQueen is to make a landmark BBC1 drama telling the story of London’s West Indians.

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The as-yet-uncast and untitled drama will start in 1968 at the moment of Enoch Powell’s notorious River of Blood speech attacking immigration.

Details are so far sketchy but it is understood that some of the drama will focus on a small Ladbroke Grove restaurant called The Mangrove, described by BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore as “a place of camaraderie and friendship that becomes a social heart for the community – and, over time, a flashpoint for resistance”.

Announcing the commission at the Edinburgh Television Festival, she said: “Oscar award-winning film director Steve McQueen’s six part series for BBC1 will tell the stories of people whose voices have never been heard; a West Indian community at the heart of our capital city.

“Set during the late 60s, 70s and 80s these lives encompass not just the daily battle for survival, but the rich cultural inheritance of their Caribbean history.”

McQueen, whose Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Fassbender film 12 Years a Slave won the best picture Oscar last year, said:  “These stories are passionate, personal and unique. They are testimony to the truth of real lives and urgently need to be told. This is about a legacy which has not only made my life as an artist possible, but also has shaped the Britain that we live in today.” 

As RadioTimes.com disclosed in January last year, the project was in development but had not been formally commissioned.

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It will be made by Rainmark Films, the British independent producers behind Emmy award-winning Churchill: Into The Storm and Richard Eyre’s feature film The Other Man.