Michaela Coel’s brave and original BBC drama I May Destroy You (originally titled January 22nd) follows Arabella, a young woman and rising literary star (played by Coel) who is the victim of a sexual assault following a late-night writing session at her publisher’s London office.
The show is about different forms of consent, and in addition to Arabella we follow her close circle of friends, and their own journeys navigating the capital city’s dating scene.
Read on for everything you need to know about the cast and characters in I May Destroy You.
Michaela Coel plays Arabella
Who is Arabella? A bestselling writer who first found fame online, and whose first book struck a chord with millennials across the country. She’s just returned from a trip aboard, but she hasn’t got as much writing done as she’d hoped to – and she’s forced to pull an all-nighter at her publisher’s London office, in order to meet a book deadline. She’s then convinced to join some friends nearby for a drink.
Afterwards, Arabella suffers from a blackout and can’t remember much from the evening – except for an image of a man looming over her in a toilet stall, which she eventually realises is a memory from a sexual assault.
Where have I seen Michaela Coel before? Coel is perhaps best known for creating the hit E4 comedy series Chewing Gum, in which she starred as Tracey Gordon. She’s also appeared as the lead role in the BBC Rwandan genocide drama Black Earth Rising; in Black Mirror; and in the Netflix film Been So Long. You may also have spotted her make a cameo in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Weruche Opia plays Terry
Who is Terry? Arabella’s best friend, she’s a struggling actress who’s busy rehearsing her lines for an upcoming audition for a Dove commercial.
Where have I seen Weruche Opia before? Opia is best known for playing Cleo in Bad Education and Nafisa in Top Boy. She’s also starred in the likes of Suspects, Sliced, and Inside No. 9.
Paapa Essiedu plays Kwame
Who plays Kwame? A dancer-turned-fitness class teacher, Kwame is an attractive yet insecure gay man who is enjoying London’s dating scene.
Where have I seen Paapa Essiedu before? You may have spotted Essiedu onstage, playing Hamlet in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2016 production, and starring in the company’s King Lear production from the same year. He’s starred in numerous films and TV shows, including Gangs of London (as Alexander Dumani), Kiri, The Miniaturist, Black Earth Rising (alongside Michaela Coel), Press (as a newcomer journalist), and in Murder on the Orient Express.
Marouane Zotti plays Biagio
Who is Biagio? A drug dealer whom Arabella forms an attachment to following a whirlwind holiday romance.
Where have I seen Marouane Zotti before? The actor has starred in Imagine You & Me, Requiem Espresso and The Red Door.
Harriet Webb plays Theodora
Who is Theodora? A working class woman who runs a rape survivors’ group that Arabella attends, and who previously knew Arabella at school.
Where have I seen Harriet Webb before? The actress recently starred as Ali in The Split and as Alison in the comedy drama Pure. She previously played Sunbed Tina in Edge of Heaven, and starred in White Gold, The Windsors, and Defending the Guilty.
Ann Akin plays Alissa
Who is Alissa? A young woman who is with Arabella the night that she has a blackout. She later says that she was drink spiked that same night.
Where have I seen Ann Akin before? She’s best known for he recurring role as DS Ekwensi in Strike, as Dr Simpson in Phillip K Dick’s Electric Dreams, and for recently playing Dee in Trigonometry. She’s also starred in the likes of Cold Feet, Law & Order, and the dark drama Unforgotten.
Sarah Niles plays Officer Funmi
Who is Officer Funmi? The police officer who speaks to Arabella after she reports the sexual assault.
Where have I seen Sarah Niles before? She played Melissa in the comedy Catastrophe, and Meg in the recent Dracula TV mini-series. She’s also starred in the most recent series of Trust Me, and appeared in Death in Paradise, Moving On, and Holby City.
I May Destroy You begins on Monday 8th June on BBC One at 10:45pm