Humans writer pens new BBC1 series about a Japanese detective’s adventures in London and Tokyo

Joe Barton's thriller Giri/Haji follows a sleuth called Kenzo who travels to London in search of his brother, in the latest collaboration between the BBC and Netflix

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BBC1 is making a new eight-part series about a middle-aged Tokyo detective who comes to London looking for his brother.

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Written by Joe Barton, the writer of BAFTA-winning Our World War and Channel 4 robot thriller Humans, the story sees middle-aged Kenzo travelling to the UK capital in search of his wayward younger sibling Yuto.

Once thought dead, Yuto is now believed to be posing as a Yakuza gangster in London and wanted for the murder of a Japanese businessman there. 

The drama is called Giri/Haji – which in English means Duty/Shame.

“Kenzo is a lonely and driven man,” said the BBC in a statement. “His honour, his family’s well-being, and the fragile peace between the warring gangs back home, rest on him finding Yuto and returning him to Tokyo.

“Yet, despite the pressures of home, a misfit family of lonely Londoners forms around Kenzo. There’s Rodney, a half Japanese rent boy with a wicked sense of humour, and Sarah, a forensic specialist with secrets of her own. Torn between two cities, and an increasingly conflicted sense of self, Kenzo wrestles with questions of guilt, duty, love and shame.”

The drama, which will cut between London and Tokyo, is a co-production with US streaming giant Netflix, which will broadcast the series globally outside of the UK.

Joe Barton said, “We want to make something that’s really ambitious and unique and the BBC and Netflix feels like the perfect place to do that at the moment.”

Executive producer Jane Featherstone added, “From the first moment Joe Barton spoke about his idea for Giri/Haji I was hooked because this series gives us an opportunity to examine our own culture and morality through the eyes of a foreigner, and combines fascinating characters, glorious wit and visual flair to tell a compelling and constantly twisting crime story.”

News of the commission was announced by the BBC at a drama reception on Thursday night where the controller of BBC Drama, Piers Wenger, set out his vision for BBC Drama with more than 47 hours of new drama commissions.

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Other dramas include a three-part drama about Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe written by Russell T Davies and a new adaptation of the much-loved 19th century novel Little Women.