EXCLUSIVE: Harry Potter producer David Heyman and the BBC are understood to have set rising filmmaker Mahalia Belo (Requiem) as their director on anticipated high-end drama The Long Song. I hear the deal is just being finalized now.

The Long Song is based on Andrea Levy’s celebrated Booker Prize-shortlisted novel about the dying days of slavery in the Caribbean. The drama will chart the story of a strong-willed young woman on a Jamaican sugar plantation who goes from being a slave to the mother of a gentleman. Shoot date and cast are not set but this could go later this year. I gather the hot project will air in the UK as a 3×60 minute drama and will be a 2×120 piece for the rest of the world.

Belo, who will direct all three parts of the drama, has been considered a talent to watch in the UK for a few years now. She won a Breakthrough BAFTA in 2017 for her Channel4 TV movie Ellen, starring Jessica Barden (The Lobster) and Joe Dempsie (Game Of Thrones), and took her career to the next level this year with well-received BBC-Netflix mystery Requiem. Her 2013 short Volume debuted at Sundance and won a British Independent Film Award.

Writer is Sarah Williams, who was screenwriter of Anne Hathaway romance Becoming Jane and co-writer with Paula Milne on BBC One’s Small Island. Heyman’s Heyday Television, a joint venture with NBC Universal International Studios, is producing and NBC Universal International Distribution is distributing. Executive producers are Heyman (Gravity) and Rosie Alison (Paddington), Levy (Small Island) and Williams with Ben Irving for BBC One (His Dark Materials).

The Long Song is Gravity and Paddington producer Heyman’s latest project for the BBC; he also teamed with the broadcaster on white collar crime trilogy Worricker, which starred Bill Nighy, Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Christopher Walken, Helena Bonham Carter and Winona Ryder. The UK super-producer is currently in production on Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

Belo is repped by WME and Independent Talent.