‘Small Axe’ creator reteams with BBC for 1980s series ‘Uprising’

The BBC has ordered a new mini-series from Oscar winner Steve McQueen.

The commission follows last year’s Small Axe, which explored the lives of West Indian immigrants in London from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Directed and co-written by McQueen, the acclaimed collection of five original films starred Letitia Wright (Black Panther), John Boyega (Star Wars), Shaun Parkes (Notes on a Scandal), Rochenda Sandall (Line of Duty), and Alex Jennings (Victoria).

McQueen will return to BBC One with Uprising, “a vivid and visceral” look at three events from 1981.

The three 60-minute episodes will begin in January, with the New Cross Fire which killed 13 black teenagers; then March, when the Black People’s Day of Action saw more than 20,000 people join the first organised mass protest by black British people; concluding with the Brixton riots in April.

Uprising will reveal “how these three events intertwined in 1981 and how, in the process, race relations were defined for a generation.”

Director and executive producer Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) commented: “It is an honour to make these films with testimonials from the survivors, investigators, activists and representatives of the machinery of state.

“We can only learn if we look at things through the eyes of everyone concerned; the New Cross Fire passed into history as a tragic footnote, but that event and its aftermath can now be seen as momentous events in our nation’s history.”

Charlotte Moore, BBC Chief Content Officer, added: “It has been an honour to work with Steve McQueen to bring these powerful stories to BBC One.

“With his visionary genius as a filmmaker he has created an incredibly important and evocative series that charts events that have defined race relations in Britain today, giving a voice to the people at the heart of these stories.”

Co-director and executive producer James Rogan explained the importance of these stories: “The New Cross Fire that claimed the lives of so many young people and affected many more remains one of the biggest losses of life in a house fire in modern British history.

“What happened and how Britain responded to it is a story that has been waiting to be told in depth for 40 years.

“In the series, survivors and the key participants will give their account of the fire, the aftermath, the impact it had on the historic events of 1981 and the profound legacy it has left behind.”

Uprising is expected to premiere in the UK on BBC One later this year.

A broadcaster in the US hasn’t yet been confirmed.

Small Axe is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.