The BBC has commissioned a slate of four dramas from first-time TV writers, including a police series starring The Hobbit and Sherlock actor Martin Freeman as a night shift officer in the British city of Liverpool.
The Responder is written by Tony Schumacher, a former police officer who is fulfilling a lifelong ambition to write for the screen. He has been mentored by Accused scribe Jimmy McGovern and been part of the BBC Writers Room emerging writers initiative.
His six-part BBC Two series features Freeman as cop Chris, who works night shifts with his new rookie partner, Rachel. Each episode centers on a different shift, and the series is described as “wildly funny and painfully tragic.” Chris is dealing with a marriage that is breaking down while policing Liverpool’s criminal underbelly, and the show deals with the realities of policing in Britain and the complexities of Freeman’s character.
The Responder is made by Dancing Ledge Productions, the UK producer on The New Pope, with Laurence Bowen, Chris Carey and Mona Qureshi executive producing. Fremantle, which owns 25% of Dancing Ledge, is handling global sales.
Freeman said: “Tony Schumacher’s script for The Responder resonated with me immediately. It felt like nothing that I’d read or seen.” Bowen, the CEO of Dancing Ledge, added: “Tony is one of the most talented new writers we’ve ever worked with. His ability to distill trauma, empathy, poetry and humor into every character he creates is extraordinary.”
Alongside The Responder, BBC drama controller Piers Wenger unveiled three other shows from new writers. He announced the series on Monday at an event in London, where he said the BBC is a “primary incubator” for fresh talent and argued there is “nowhere else in the world where you can be as creatively free.”
Sex Education director Alice Seabright has been commissioned by BBC One to write a six-part series, titled Chloe. The show focuses on the character of Becky, who becomes obsessed with the death of her estranged friend Chloe. Becky assumes a new identity to infiltrate the enviable lives of Chloe’s closest friends as she attempts to establish what happened.
Chloe is made by Mam Tor Productions, run by former Cuba Pictures cofounder Tally Garner. Garner serves as executive producer alongside the BBC’s Ben Irving, while Seabright is the writer and director. “In Becky, she has created a heroine for our time,” Garner said of Seabright’s script.
Also on the BBC slate is My Name Is Leon, a feature-length adaptation of the Kit de Waal novel of the same name. It is written by Shola Amoo, his first screenplay for TV, and is made by Lenny Henry’s Endemol Shine Group-owned production company Douglas Road Productions.
My Name Is Leon is set in 1980s Britain and tells the uplifting story of nine-year-old Leon, a mixed-race boy who attempts to keep his family together as his single-parent mother suffers a devastating breakdown. Made for BBC One, the executive producers are Henry and Angela Ferreira for Douglas Road Productions alongside Gub Neal, Edward Barlow and Mona Qureshi. Kibwe Tavares is directing, while Carol Harding is the producer.
Finally, youth channel BBC Three has ordered Superhoe from the multi-hyphenated Nicôle Lecky. It is based on Lecky’s one-woman Royal Court theatre show and follows a wannabe singer and rapper who is thrown out of her family home and moves in with a party-girl who introduces her to a world of social media influencing and sex work.
Lecky will play the central character of Sasha Clayton in the six-part series, which is made by The Last Post producer Bonafide Films. The story is told in part through songs and is billed as a portrayal of a fierce working-class girl and her struggle to navigate the modern world. Lecky and Margery Bone executive produce for Bonafide Films alongside the BBC’s Lucy Richer and Ayela Butt.
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