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Everything you need to know about the TV adaptation of Malorie Blackman's 'Noughts and Crosses'

Today it was announced that Stormzy has a role in the series.

noughts and crosses

IF YOU’VE NEVER heard of Noughts & Crosses, it’s the beginning of a dystopian series written by author Malorie Blackman, which was aimed at young readers and released in 2001. 

The novel takes place in an alternative 21st century Britain – in which slavery has been abolished, but segregation exists in a manner which is similar to the Jim Crow era. There’s a twist though – dark-skinned people (known as crosses) are the ones oppressing lighter-skinned people (who are known as noughts). Callum, a young nought, finds himself in love with a black woman named Sephy, but their relationship is incredibly difficult, due to the inequality and prejudice that exists in their society. 

The novel itself was a huge success at the time of its release, receiving numerous nominations and awards in the UK for Children’s Book of the Year. 

In November 2018, news broke that the novel was being developed as a TV series by the BBC, who’ll air the show at some stage this year. Over the last few months, the series has been shot in South Africa, by the company who made Poldark and Victoria. Roc Nation are going to handle the show’s soundtrack, according to the Hollywood Reporter. That sounds very promising. 

Who’s in it? 

Playing the role of Sephy is a relatively unknown young actress named Masali Baduza (at present she has just over 1,000 Instagram followers – something that is sure to change in the coming months). Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Baduza majored in Acting at the New York Film Academy campus in Los Angeles and has another upcoming role in a comedy called Bhai’s café. Recently, Baduza shared a still from the upcoming series on her Instagram account. 

If you’re a fan of Peaky Blinders, you’ll recognise that young man, whose eyes she’s staring into. That’s BAFTA-winning actor Jack Rowan, who played Bonnie in Peaky Blinders and Sam in Born to Kill. 

A handful of other actors have been announced for this series, including Helen Baxendale (who played Emily in Friends), Ian Hart (who played Quirrell in Harry Potter), Paterson Joseph (who you may remember as Alan from Peep Show), and South African actress Bonnie Mbuli.

On top of those names, we’ve also got 25-year-old rapper Stormzy (whose real name is Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr.). Stormzy is absolutely delighted to be a part of this production, because he’s a long time fan of Blackman’s novels. In a statement today, he said:

As a diehard fan of Malorie’s novels, being a part of this important show is a dream come true. 

_106118554_17852099-high_res-noughts-crosses Stormzy as his character Kolawale in Noughts and Crosses. Source: BBC

The character that Stormzy is set to play wasn’t actually featured in any of the books. Malorie wrote a brand new character into Noughts and Crosses especially for him. Blackman said, “The first time I met Stormzy he informed me he was a huge fan of my Noughts and Crosses series of books. I’m thrilled he will now be a part of the Noughts and Crosses TV production. It’s so exciting.”

Stormzy’s character, Kolawale, is the Editor-in-Chief of the Ohene Standard, a newspaper in the series. The fifth book in the series is set to come out this summer. It’s not clear whether the TV adaptation will air before or after the new book’s release.

Although the book made a huge impact on a lot of young readers, in the same way it did for Stormzy, it has been met with criticism in Ireland. In 2015, parents complained that it was too sexually explicit to be on the Junior Cert curriculum, and ranted about it on Joe Duffy’s Liveline (where else?)

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Kelly Earley

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