BBC boss says slavery drama ‘The Long Song’ will be ‘inspiring and utterly unforgettable’

The BBC’s new adaptation of The Long Song “perfectly captures the unique tone” of Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel.

The three-part mini-series will be produced by Heyday Television (Harry Potter, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) and written by Sarah Williams, who previously adapted Levy’s novel Small Island in 2009.

The Long Song explores the dying days of slavery on the British-ruled Caribbean island of Jamaica in 1838.

The official story synopsis reads: “It follows a strong-willed young female slave (July) on a Jamaican plantation in the 19th century. She is a natural survivor, who begins her story as a slave, but ends it as the mother of a gentleman.

“Told from July’s perspective as she looks back over her life, the tone is funny, defiant and indomitable.

“Above all, it’s a powerful story about love and survival, with vivid set pieces of social unrest and turmoil, and characters who change and develop in unpredictable ways. It’s also a story about the injustices which humans inflict upon each other, and the unexpected ways in which people’s humanity sometimes overrules their prejudices.”

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, commented: “July’s story is heart-breaking, inspiring and utterly unforgettable. Sarah’s script perfectly captures the unique tone of Andrea’s novel and skilfully brings this story of slavery in a British colony to life.”

Executive producer David Heyman added: “Andrea Levy’s revelatory novel The Long Song cries out for dramatisation, uncovering as it does a wholly unexplored side to our history. It’s a novel full of surprise and unpredictable twists, upending any easy stereotypes of slave and master. We’re delighted that writer Sarah Williams has been able to capture the wit and verve of Andrea’s fiercely original heroine, July.”

Andrea Levy’s book is available to buy now on Amazon.

The Long Song will air on BBC One in the UK later this year or early 2019.