Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two announced the slate of programmes for the coming two months at an event earlier this week.
Holland outlined the channel’s long history with successful drama programming, commenting: “Blending strong opinions and bold perspectives with brilliant comic voices and finger-on-the-pulse entertainment. Never afraid of provoking, knowing we may upset people along the way… We commission based on passion, on gut feel, on public service purpose”.
Black Earth Rising will explore the prosecution of international war crimes and the West’s relationship with contemporary Africa, through an interracial family with personal experience of genocide.
The eight-part fictional drama series, which has been written and directed by BAFTA-award winner Hugo Blick (The Honourable Woman), stars Michaela Coel (Chewing Gum) as Kate Ashby, a woman who was recused from Rwanda during the genocide and adopted into a white family. Her adopted mother Eve, played by Harriet Walter (The Crown, Downton Abbey) is a prosecutor in international law. When we meet Kate in adulthood, she has followed in her adopted mother’s footsteps and is a legal investigator in the law chambers of Michael Ennis (John Goodman, The Big Lewbowski, Roseanne).
The story revolves around Eve taking on a case at the International Criminal Court, prosecuting an African militia leader, which irreparably changes the relationship between mother and daughter.
“‘The past isn’t dead, it isn’t even past’. I was never quite sure exactly what this famous quote meant but by following the fictional journey of a young black British woman on an epic and deeply personal quest to bring a Rwandan genocidaire to legal justice - now I do", said writer and director, Hugo Blick, “And now I know just how critical, difficult and terrifying that phrase can seem to anyone in pursuit, and denial, of international criminal justice”.
The series, which is a co-production between BBC Two and Netflix, will broadcast later this year on BBC Two in the UK and stream internationally outside the UK.
Another drama commission announced is Englistan, which will follow three generations of a British Pakistani family, the Latifs, as they pursue their dreams over four decades. The series looks at the family's journey through political movements, economic booms and busts, gang culture, cultural assimilation and religious conflicts.
The programme looks at the term “home” as a concept and questions what it is to be true to oneself.
“Englistan is an untold British story with universal themes and resonance,” said Riz Ahmed, the series creator, “It's the story I always wanted to tell, and it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to do so.”
Other programmes announced include Death and Nightingales, adapted by Allan Cubitt (The Fall) from Eugene McCabe’s modern Irish classic novel; Doing Money, a startling true story of slavery in modern Britain and Donald Glover’s critically acclaimed Golden Globe and Emmy-winning show, Atlanta, which starts Sunday 13 May.