‘My Name is Leon’ preview: First look at BBC adaptation of Kit de Waal’s 1980s drama

The BBC has released a set of promotional photos for My Name is Leon.

Set in Birmingham, England in the eighties, the upcoming TV movie is based on Kit de Waal’s novel.

My Name is Leon tells the uplifting and incredibly moving story of nine year old Leon, a mixed-race boy whose desire is to keep his family together, as his single-parent mother suffers a devastating breakdown.

Adapted by screenwriter Shola Amoo, the BBC’s 90-minute “tender and inspiring” adaptation will balance “gritty realism with charm and gentle humour, exploring the issues of identity and belonging with both urgency and wit.”

Newcomer Cole Martin plays Leon, alongside Malachi Kirby (Small Axe) and Monica Dolan (A Very English Scandal).

Malachi Kirby previously commented: “It’s rare, in my experience, for projects such as this to be made and even more rare to be seen, so I’m really excited and grateful to be a part of it.”

Monica Dolan added: “Rarely do you get the chance even to read a script of such heart, soul and wisdom as Shola’s. And it could not have come at a more appropriate time.”

The cast also includes Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense), Christopher Eccleston (The A Word), Poppy Lee Friar (Ackley Bridge), and Sir Lenny Henry (Doctor Who).

Olivia Williams said: “This film is a real challenge for me. The subject matter has deep resonance, and my character is both grotesque and very real. I’m so excited to be involved.”

As well as appearing in My Name is Leon, The Long Song star Sir Lenny Henry is also one of the film’s executive producers.

Henry commented last year: “I was halfway through recording the audiobook for My Name is Leon when I realised I was in love.

“Kit de Waal’s peerless narrative had me entranced from the beginning and didn’t let me go until the final sentence. Shola’s adaptation does the story great justice.”

My Name is Leon was filmed on location in Birmingham earlier this year.

The official synopsis for My Name is Leon reads: “Set in 1980s Birmingham, this special one-off film tells the uplifting and incredibly moving story of nine year-old Leon, a mixed-race boy, and his quest to reunite his family after being taken into care and separated from his blond and blue-eyed baby brother.

“Told through Leon’s eyes, we follow his journey, full of energy and hopefulness despite the hardships he encounters, and witness the touching relationship between him and his foster carer Maureen. With his favourite action figure Sergeant Smith by his side, Leon’s adventure teaches him valuable lessons about himself, the world, love, and what family, in its various guises, really means.”

Sir Lenny Henry is currently writing a semi-autobiographical drama set in the 1950s for ITV, titled Three Little Birds.

My Name is Leon will premiere on BBC One in the UK later this year.

Kit de Waal’s novel is available on Amazon.