EXCLUSIVE- Nikki Amuka-Bird and Phoebe Fox have been set as the two female leads for the BBC’s highly-anticipated feature length adaptation of bestselling author Zadie Smith’s NW. Smith’s acclaimed portrait of multi-cultural London follows a group of friends who grew up together on an estate. Central to the story are Natalie and Leah, whose lives have taken them in different directions. Natalie’s wealth and ambition have set her apart from the friends and family she grew up with — and she finds herself asking not only who she really is, but where she belongs. In an area where wealth and poverty are only streets apart, life is fragile, as Natalie and Leah are about to find out. As revealed exclusively by Deadline, Saul Dibb (The Duchess) is directing.

Phoebe Fox

Rachel Bennette (Ripper Street) has adapted the novel, which was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and also one of the New York Times 10 best books of the year when it was published in 2013. The New York Review of Books hailed it an urban epic.

Both Amuka-Bird and Fox’s stars are on the rise. Amuka-Bird starred most recently in Cinemax’s Quarry, the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending and a recurring role opposite Idris Elba in the brilliant Luther. Fox most recently starred in Gavin Hood’s sleeper hit Eye in the Sky and the BBC’s well-received Shakespeare adaptation The Hollow Crown with Tom Hiddlestone and Benedict Cumberbatch. Amuka-Bird is repped by Troika,  Green & Associates Talent Agency and NB Management. Fox is repped by Curtis Brown Group and WME.

Also starring in the production will be Richie Campbell (Anuvahood), and O.T. Fagbenle (The Five) playing Felix, as well as Rosalind Eleazar, Ronke Adekoluejo as Grace, and James MacCallum as Tom.

Betsan Morris Evans produces. Mammoth Screen (Poldark), one of the UK’s leading indie scripted banners before it was acquired last year by ITV, is producing with Damien Timmer exec producing for Mammoth and Preethi Mavahalli and Lucy Richer and Maxine Watson for the BBC. NW will air on BBC Two in the autumn.