Noughts + Crosses author Malorie Blackman has revealed that she was once asked by a producer whether she’d be comfortable changing the ‘Crosses’ (the black ruling class in her dystopian novel series) from black to Asian.
Speaking at the Monday premiere for the upcoming BBC One adaptation of her novel, Blackman revealed that she had previously been approached by various film and TV producers over the years, but had “resigned” herself to never seeing her young-adult series on-screen.
She went on to explain why she had once turned down producers looking to make a radical change to the book.
“We sold the film rights twice, and it didn’t quite happen, for one reason or another, and I’d been taken out to lunch by various other producers who were keen to produce it, and for one reason or another that didn’t quite happen,” she said. “And I must admit, I’d kind of resigned myself to: ‘OK, this is not gonna happen. Give up on this’.”
She continued: “One production lunch I went to they said they were very keen to do it but would I mind if I made the ‘Crosses’ Asian, rather than black, and I said, ‘Why?’, and they said, ‘We just feel we’d reach a bigger audience that way’. And I thought, ‘Kind of miss the point, much?’….Hard pass, crazy hard pass.”
The series, which stars Peaky Blinders actor Jack Rowan as Callum and newcomer Masali Baduza as Sephy, is set in an alternate world where an ‘Aprican’ empire colonised Europe hundreds of years ago, and Albion – aka Britain – is segregated, with the black ruling class (the ‘Crosses’) on one hand and the white underclass (the ‘Noughts’) on the other.
Noughts and Crosses will start airing on BBC One at 9pm on Thursday 5th March 2020, and will be available as a boxset on iPlayer following the first episode’s release.