Baby Cow, the film and TV production company co-founded by Steve Coogan, has acquired Zadie Smith’s new novel Swing Time. Smith will adapt the book herself, with Nick Laird, for television. This marks the company’s first significant buy since former BBC Films head Christine Langan took over as Baby Cow CEO.

Award-winning British author Smith has previously written the critical hits White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty and NW. Swing Time was published this week to strong reviews.

The book is a story of friendship, music and true identity. The action moves between North West London and West Africa and follows two girls who dream of being dancers — but only Tracey has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, about what constitutes a tribe or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early 20s, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten either.

Langan says, “Zadie Smith is the voice of a generation and Swing Time is a thrillingly ambitious story of friendship, rivalry and fame. We’re delighted and honored at Baby Cow to be developing such a unique project and we can’t wait to share it with TV audiences everywhere.”

Baby Cow’s feature credits include the Oscar nominated and Bafta winning Philomena and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. On the TV side, it’s been responsible for Alan Partridge, Nighty Night, The Mighty Boosh, Gavin And Stacey and Red Dwarf. The company is 73% owned by BBC Worldwide.

The acquisition of Swing Time was brokered with Katie Haines at The Agency in association with Georgia Garrett at Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd.