New ‘Small Axe’ Series Explores Powerful Black British Experiences

Sweeney Gloria

By Sweeney Gloria

Sweeney Gloria

6 Dec 2020

British television has allowed an undersized space for diverse, black narratives on-screen. Channel 4’s longest-running sitcom is the 1980-90s show, ‘Desmond’s’, and still, even fourty years on, it stands as one of the only Black British shows of its kind. Mainstream television has demonstrated slow progress in giving way to Black British figures and particularly do so in comedic and short-form contexts. Viewers within this community rarely see a thorough representation of the Black British experience.

In a collection of five true-to-life films, directed by Oscar-winning Steve McQueen, powerful black archives are brought to the screen and housed under the new ‘Small Axe’ series. The title, being a direct reference to a proverb popularised in Bob Marley’s 1973 “Small Axe” record, highlights authentic experiences through the lens of Britain’s Caribbean community, set from 1969 to 1982. The dynamic approach unravels the Black British experience, delivering scenes of joyous romances through lovers rock to historical narratives on overcoming racial injustice.

The star-studded cast providing the on-screen magic is made up of an array of Black British talent and includes the likes of John Boyega, Micheal Ward, Malachi Kirby, and Letitia Wright embodying significant characters each week!

Letitia Wright – (C) McQueen Limited – Photographer: Des Willie

Thrusting viewers into nostalgia and a deeper understanding of what Black Britons have contributed to a society, of which many of us call home, is necessary work through comprehensive production. The stories being told in the episodes: “Mangrove Nine”, “Lovers Rock”, “Red, White and Blue”, “Education” and “Alex Wheatle” are merely fractions of the full experience. Still, what ‘Small Axe’ has captured will leave its mark on the landscape of black stories that are told in British television.

Tap into the ‘Small Axe’ mini-series, available on BBC One and Amazon Prime.