EXCLUSIVE: BBC One and Victoria producer Mammoth Screen have set rising UK filmmaker Kibwe Tavares to direct the first three episodes of anticipated drama Noughts And Crosses, I have learned. The producers have also brought on Being Human creator Toby Whithouse to oversee scripting. The team is gearing up to shoot the dystopian YA adaptation later this year as a 6x60min drama and there are discussions going on at the moment to potentially bring aboard a sizeable U.S. partner.
Overseas interest is understandable. Malorie Blackman’s buzzed-about YA book series takes place in an alternate 21st-century Britain in which whites and blacks are segregated following centuries in which Africans had a technological and infrastructural superiority over Europeans who they made their slaves. The series, first announced in summer 2016, will chart the forbidden love story between ‘Cross’ Sephy, a member of the black ruling class and daughter of a prominent politician, and ‘Nought’ Callum, a white member of the underclass.
Writer Levi David Addai (Youngers) and Life On Mars co-creator Matthew Graham have moved on from the project which is now being script-led by Being Human creator and Doctor Who director Whithouse with Lydia Adetunji (Riviera) and Nathaniel Price (Five By Five). Their adaptation is based on the first book in Blackman’s series, which won the Red House Children’s Book Award and the Fantastic Fiction Award.
Executive producers for Mammoth Screen are Preethi Mavahalli and Managing Director Damien Timmer. Producer is Johann Knobel (Shameless). Whithouse’s BBC hit Being Human, about three twenty-somethings who share a house and try to live a normal life despite being a ghost, a werewolf, and a vampire, was reworked for Syfy in the U.S.
Tavares has been considered a talent to watch out of the UK for a few years now and the tone of his previous and existing projects seem to make Noughts And Crosses a good fit. His buzzed-about feature debut The Kitchen, currently in development with Michael Fassbender’s DMC Film and Film4, is due to star Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya, who has also co-written the script. The film is set in a dystopian 2040 London, a city of extortionate house prices, computerized labor and no Welfare State, a billionaire’s playground pushing the lower classes to provincial empty slum-like high rises like the titular Kitchen. Two years ago the filmmaker workshopped the project at Sundance, which has played a number of his shorts. Tavares’s animated 2017 short Scarecrow And Robot, which also has an otherworldly theme to it, featured the voices of Kaluuya, Jack O’Connell and Holliday Grainger. He is repped by Casarotto Ramsay & Associates.