The BBC is developing a “landmark” drama about the black British experience with director and hot Oscar contender Steve McQueen.
McQueen – whose Twelve Years a Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, is one of the early favourites for the Oscar best film award – is currently working on the as yet unnamed series, set in his native west London and spanning the late Sixties to the present day.
“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 told the Daily Mail.
The BBC confirmed to RadioTimes.com that it was developing the project with Rainmark films, the British independent producers behind Emmy award-winning Churchill: Into The Storm and Richard Eyre’s feature film The Other Man.
The Corporation said it was “early days” for the drama and that it is not yet clear whether it would be for BBC1 or BBC2.
“Work is under way and we are fully committed to making it but working around Steve’s schedule,” said a spokeswoman.
Controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson added: “It is too early to announce the details, but it is incredibly exciting to be working with the hugely talented British director who has rapidly become one of the finest directors in the world.”
The drama is likely to evoke comparison with Our Friends in the North, Peter Flannery’s epic 1996 series about a group of Geordie friends and their experiences in a changing Britain, beginning in the 1960s and continuing to then contemporary mid-1990s Britain.
Twelve Years a Slave is also nominated for all the major awards for this year’s Bafta Film Awards, with Ejiofor competing for the best actor prize against Hustle’s Christian Bale, Wolf of Wall Street’s Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) and Bruce Dern (Nebraska).