Star Wars actor John Boyega and Black Panther actress Letitia Wright will star in Steve McQueen’s new anthology series for the BBC.
The duo will appear in Small Axe, six hour-long films telling five different stories, with the first told across two episodes.
They will all be set within London’s west Indian community from the late 1960s to the early 80s.
The title Small Axe is derived from a Jamaican proverb which has resonance throughout the Caribbean, “if you are the big tree, we are the small axe”.
Small Axe is also the title of a Bob Marley song from his 1973 album Catch A Fire. It means that relatively marginal or small voices of dissent can successfully challenge more powerful voices.
Filming for the series – which will also star Malachi Kirby, Shaun Parkes, Rochenda Sandall, Alex Jennings and Jack Lowden – began on location in London on June 24.
McQueen, who most recently directed Widows starring Viola Davis, said: “I felt these stories needed to be shared. I wanted to re-live, re-evaluate and investigate the journeys that my parents and the first generation of West Indians went on to deliver me here today calling myself a black British person.
“What’s important about our stories is that they are local but at the same time global. I think audiences will identify with the trials, tribulations and joy of our characters as well as reflecting on the present environment in which we find ourselves.
“The dynamic nature of the series allows us to confront injustice in the face of adversity hence the proverb Small Axe, ‘if you are the big tree, we are the small axe’.”
Piers Wenger, controller of BBC drama, added: “It is an honour to have Steve McQueen, along with this stellar cast, tell these important and inspiring stories on BBC One.
“Small Axe will air on BBC One next year, and this powerful drama is not to be missed.”