BBC Details Steve McQueen Drama; Sets Motown-Themed Series – Edinburgh

As the BBC faces an uncertain future with the government assessing its remit, BBC One Controller Charlotte Moore touted the channel’s record breaking year this morning in Edinburgh, and unveiled an upcoming slate of dramas. Moore is in town for the Guardian Edinburgh Interational TV Festival where she spilled details on the previously mooted Steve McQueen-created drama, as well as a new musical drama that incorporates the anthems of Motown, and a one-off adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The 12 Years A Slave helmer’s untitled six-part drama will tell the stories of a West Indian community in London whose lives have been shaped by their own force of will. Beginning in 1968 and running through the 80s, it starts at the moment of Enoch Powell’s notorious River of Blood speech. In the same year, a small restaurant called The Mangrove opens in Ladbroke Grove; a place of cameraderie and friendship that becomes a social heart for the community — and, over time, a flashpoint for resistance. Rainmark Films is producing for BBC One with cast and timeline to come.

McQueen calls the stories “passionate, personal and unique. They are testimony to the truth of real lives and urgently need to be told. This is about a legacy which has not only made my life as an artist possible, but also has shaped the Britain that we live in today.”

Also new, Death In Paradise‘s Tony Jordan is writing a four-part musical drama series, Stop! In The Name Of Love, which is centered around the anthems of Motown. It will reflect the diversity of modern Britain, focusing on six smart, thirtysomething women’s complicated lives as they deal with love, friendship, success and failure. The label’s music will be woven into each drama, with characters singing songs at key moments within the spoken narrative. Produced by Jordan’s Red Planet Pictures, it’s based on a format created by Stop! (London) Ltd.

A deal to use the original Motown music was concluded between EMI Publishing and a joint venture of Jordan; producer Duncan Kenworthy (Notting Hill; Love Actually); Antenna group MD and former president of NBCU International, Peter Smith; and independent music consultant and former chairman of Universal Music UK, John Kennedy.

Moore further announced the 90-minute primetime adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream from Russell T Davies (Doctor Who). A truthful version of the original play, it’s set in the tyrannical court of Athens and the magical forest around the city and is aimed at all audiences. Davies says he’s “wanted to make this for the BBC for my entire adult life… With a riot of prosthetics, CGI, magic and action, it needs the brilliant Doctor Who team in Cardiff to bring it to life.” BBC Cymru Wales is producing in association with BBC Worldwide. It will air in 2016 as part of BBC’s Shakespeare Season. Casting also to come.

In making the drama announcements today, Moore said BBC One has been “educating and entertaining over 42 million people every week” and is “the nation’s most watched channel” supporting “a thriving UK creative industry whose ambition is unrivalled.”

“I want to challenge program makers and British talent to continue to push the boundaries of creativity and raise the bar even further on quality and innovation.”

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