Steve McQueen

The creation of Steve McQueen’s anthology Small Axe

Small Axe: Lovers Rock (Credit: BBC)

The benefits of assembling genuinely diverse production teams are often talked about but seldom fully realised. A notable recent exception was Steve McQueen’s ground breaking Small Axe, the anthology of five feature films first shown on BBC One late last year, and the recent winner of five Bafta craft awards. 

Four of the five films depicted the troubling experiences of first-generation West Indians living in west London during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, while the fifth, Lovers Rock, was a celebration of a night out at a house party in Ladbroke Grove in 1980. 

Production Focus: Small Axe | RTS London

The production team behind Steve McQueen's drama, Small Axe, discuss the making of the love letters to resilience and triumph within London's West Indian community.

They share the casting, costume, screenplay and research processes behind each episode of the series.

Aradhna Tayal - Producer & Consultant, Clockhouse Media

Tracey Scoffield - Executive Producer
Courttia Newland - Co-Writer
Gary Davy - Casting
JoJo Williams - Hair & Makeup 

BBC One announces new series from Steve McQueen

The films will explore the events surrounding the New Cross Fire in January 1981, which killed 13 black teenagers, the Black People’s Day of Action in the aftermath of the fire in March, which saw more than 20,000 people join the first organised protest by black British people, and the Brixton riots that followed in April.

Steve McQueen and James Rogan will both executive produce and direct the series, revealing how these three events intertwined and defined race relations for a generation.

Small Axe: The real Black British experience

In 2010, Tracey Scoffield, co-founder of Turbine Studios and executive producer of the Emmy-winning movie The Gathering Storm, received an email that would change not only the course of her next 10 years, but the boundaries of television drama.

It was from Steve McQueen’s agent. At the time, the London-born director had just made a name for himself with his debut feature film, Hunger, the story of Bobby Sands and the IRA hunger strikes.

BBC One releases Small Axe trailer marking 50 years since Mangrove Protest

Letitia Wright in Mangrove (credit: BBC)

From the Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Mangrove follows the events which led to the arrest of nine innocent Black women and men for protesting against police brutality in Notting Hill in 1970, and the highly publicised trial which followed.

The group, who later became known as the Mangrove 9, were arrested and charged with incitement to riot: Frank Crichlow, Darcus Howe, Altheia Jones-leCointe, Barbara Beese, Rupert Boyce, Rhodan Gordon, Anthony Innis, Rothewell Kentish and Godfrey Millet.

Why black lives have to matter more in the TV industry

Director Steve McQueen on the set of BBC One’s forthcoming 1970s drama Small Axe (credit: BBC)

Another day, another Black Lives Matter protest. Another day, another testimony by a black figure in the industry about all the direct and systemic racism they have faced working in the industry. Another day, another statement by a British broadcaster about how it is responding to the current crisis.

When I was first approached by Television to write this piece, the brief was simple: go through recent events, assess the different policy initiatives the industry has announced and offer a prediction as to whether this would lead to lasting change.