Letitia Wright and John Boyega are set to star on Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe,” an upcoming anthology series that will air on the BBC in the U.K. and Amazon in the U.S.
The cast also includes Malachi Kirby (“Black Mirror”), Shaun Parkes (“Lost in Space”), Rochenda Sandall (“Line of Duty”), Alex Jennings (“Victoria”) and Jack Lowden (“Mary Queen of Scots”).
Created and written by McQueen with Alastair Siddons and Courttia Newland, the six-part, one-hour series will tell five different stories (with the first told across two episodes) and is set in London’s West Indian community, running from the late 1960s through the early ’80s. Shooting on the series began on location in London this week.
Per the studio, the title “Small Axe” is derived from a Jamaican proverb which has resonance throughout the Caribbean, “if you are the big tree, we are the small axe.” “Small Axe” is also the title of a Bob Marley song from his 1973 album “Catch a Fire.” It means that relatively marginal or small voices of dissent can successfully challenge more powerful voices.
“I felt these stories needed to be shared,” McQueen said. “I wanted to relive, reevaluate and investigate the journeys that my parents and the first generation of West Indians went on to deliver me here today calling myself a black British person. What’s important about our stories is that they are local but at the same time global.
“I think audiences will identify with the trials, tribulations and joy of our characters as well as reflecting on the present environment in which we find ourselves,” he continued. “The dynamic nature of the series allows us to confront injustice in the face of adversity.”
“Small Axe” is executive produced by McQueen for Lammas Park and Tracey Scoffield and David Tanner for Turbine Studios. Mike Elliot is producing for EMU Films with Turbine Studios and Anita Overland. Associate producers include Charlotte Andrews for Turbine, Susan Dolan for Lammas Park and Helen Bart. The drama was commissioned by director of BBC content Charlotte Moore, with Lucy Richer executive producing for the BBC. Alex Wheatle is a writing consultant on the series.
Amazon has licensed the show for the U.S. with BBC Studios handling worldwide sales.
Variety first reported the casting news.