Letitia Wright and John Boyega have joined the cast of BBC One TV series Small Axe, the latest project from Oscar and Bafta-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen.

Small Axe is an anthology of six hour-long stories conceived and written by Steve McQueen of Widows and Twelve Years A Slave fame and it’s set within London’s West Indian community from the late 1960s to the early 80s.

The title, Small Axe, comes from a Jamaican proverb which has resonance throughout the Caribbean, “if you are the big tree, we are the small axe”. Small Axe is also the title of a Bob Marley song from his 1973 album Catch A Fire. It means that relatively marginal or small voices of dissent can successfully challenge more powerful voices.

John Boyega is best known for his role as Finn in the latest feature films in the Star Wars franchise. Letitia Wright starred in the box office and awards season sensation Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.

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The films feature an all-star British cast including Evening Standard Theatre Awards’ Outstanding Newcomer Malachi Kirby (Curfew, Black Mirror, Roots).

Steve McQueen says: “I felt these stories needed to be shared. I wanted to re-live, re-evaluate and investigate the journeys that my parents and the first generation of West Indians went on to deliver me here today calling myself a Black British person. What’s important about our stories is that they are local but at the same time global. I think audiences will identify with the trials, tribulations and joy of our characters as well as reflecting on the present environment in which we find ourselves. The dynamic nature of the series allows us to confront injustice in the face of adversity hence the proverb Small Axe, ‘if you are the big tree, we are the small axe’ (Bob Marley).”

Small Axe Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen
Image Credit: BBC

Turbine Studios and Steve McQueen’s Lammas Park executive produced the series and Alastair Siddons and Courttia Newland wrote the script alongside McQueen with Alex Wheatle is a writing consultant to the series.

Shooting for Small Axe has begun in London and the series will air on BBC One in 2020.


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