Lenny Henry’s 1950s drama series ‘Three Little Birds’ reveals cast

ITV has announced the cast for its new “life affirming drama” Three Little Birds.

First announced in 2020, the series is created by actor, presenter and comedian Sir Lenny Henry (The Long Song, Broadchurch).

The six-part drama is inspired by Henry’s mother’s stories about leaving Jamaica in the 1950’s for Great Britain, which became her lifelong home and where she raised her family.

Three Little Birds is filming right now in the Midlands, executive produced by Russell T Davies (A Very English ScandalIt’s a Sin).

Leading the cast are Rochelle Neil (The Nevers, Guilt), Yazmin Belo (What Just Happened) and Saffron Coomber (EastEnders).

Rochelle Neil commented: “It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to give a voice to such a pioneering generation, in all their complexities. In many ways, Leah feels like a love letter to my grandmothers. A chance to explore the lives of the women that led to me being here and who I am today. I know they both would have been absolutely thrilled, as am I.”

Saffron Coomber revealed: “I screamed when I found out that I was cast in Three Little Birds. It is a dream come true.”

She added: “It is an honour to tell an overlooked story of British history that is so close not only to my family but to so many, notwithstanding working with Lenny whom has been a legend in my home since I can remember. I am constantly inspired by my castmates and the stellar crew. I am in awe of the project and can’t wait to share it- pinch me!”

Three Little Birds is described as “a triumphant celebration of immigration, community and the strength of Black womanhood inspired by the life-affirming stories of Sir Lenny Henry’s mother and all those who have travelled to make Britain their home.”

We’re told it’ll be “spirited, moving, funny and utterly heartfelt” – sounds brilliant!

The cast also includes Javone Prince (Dodger), Arthur Darvill (World on Fire, Broadchurch), and Beth Hayes (Mr Selfridge).

The official synopsis reads: “Set in 1957, post-Windrush, and amidst the booming decade set alight by promise, the rhythm of rock and roll, swing, Hollywood starlets and fabulous fashion, Three Little Birds will introduce Dudley and the rest of the world to gregarious sisters Leah (Rochelle Neil) and Chantrelle (Saffron Coomber) and their virtuous, bible-loving acquaintance, Hosanna (Yazmin Belo), as they board a cruise ship from Jamaica bound for a new life in Blighty.

“Lured to the UK in search of new beginnings and by their older brother Aston (Javone Prince), who asks Leah and Chantrelle if they’ll bring him a potential wife from back home, they convince Hosanna to give up her job as a trainee nurse and embark upon the journey to ‘the mother country.

“An effervescent mix of strong personalities they all have very different reasons for leaving their family and friends behind in Clarendon, Jamaica, though they soon discover it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, not least the dramatic change in weather.

“While we learn shocking truths about the lives they left behind the voyage of discovery is not smooth sailing for our trio, but they are determined to succeed and overcome the many obstacles of integration and build a new life in Britain.”

Sir Lenny Henry explained: “I think I’ve been waiting to write this show for my entire life. It’s inspired by my mother’s numerous stories about travelling to Britain by boat in the mid- fifties.

“However, the joyous aspect of this project is the way we as a team have created a whole new narrative environment so that we can tell a whole raft of stories. Leah, Chantrelle and Hosanna (as portrayed by Rochelle, Saffron and Yasmin) pour their hearts into this rendition of all our parents’ stories.”

Three Little Birds will premiere in 2023 on ITV in the UK and on BritBox in the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Nordics.