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Small Axe: First look at new series coming to BBC One

Small Axe mangrove 9

BBC One has revealed a first look at its upcoming drama series Small Axe.

Small Axe is a drama anthology which comprises five original films by Academy Award, Bafta, and Golden Globe-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen (Hunger, 12 Years A Slave).

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Set from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, the films each tell a different story involving London's West Indian community, whose lives have been shaped by their own force of will despite rampant racism and discrimination.

The first film is call Mangrove which tells the true story of the Mangrove 9, the group of Black activists who clashed with London police during a protest march in 1970, and their highly publicised trial that followed.

Unveiling a first trailer, above, the BBC said: "Sunday 9 August marks the 50th anniversary of the march of 150 protesters of West Indian, African and South Asian heritage in Notting Hill, West London who marched to local police stations in protest of police harassment in their communities including the Mangrove restaurant.

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"Nine protest leaders were arrested and charged with incitement to riot: Frank Crichlow, Darcus Howe, Altheia Jones-LeCointe, Barbara Beese, Rupert Boyce, Rhodan Gordon, Anthony Innis, Rothwell Kentish and Godfrey Millett. The group later became known as the Mangrove 9."

Steve McQueen: “Sunday, August 9th, is 50 years since the Mangrove March, which led to nine innocent Black women and men being arrested. It was a march necessitated by relentless police brutality in Notting Hill.

"To commemorate the bravery of these community activists and the nine who went on to be acquitted of incitement to riot with the judge citing 'evidence of racial hatred', I am sharing the trailer of Mangrove, one of five films to be released under the banner Small Axe.”

The cast features Letitia Wright (Black Panther), Shaun Parkes (Lost In Space), and Malachi Kirby (Curfew).

They're joined by Rochenda Sandall (Line Of Duty), Jack Lowden (The Long Song), Sam Spruell (Snow White And The Huntsmen), Gershwyn Eustache Jnr (The Gentlemen), Nathaniel Martello-White (Collateral), Richie Campbell (Liar), Jumayn Hunter (Les Misérables), and Gary Beadle (Summer Of Rockets).

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Small Axe will premiere on BBC One and iPlayer this autumn and air on Amazon Prime Video in the US.

The title is derived from an African proverb, which has resonance throughout the Caribbean, “if you are the big tree, we are the small axe”. This was made popular by Bob Marley in The Wailers song Small Axe from the album Burnin’ (1973).

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