Noughts and Crosses: The TV show that could be MORE controversial than The Handmaid's Tale
Malorie Blackman published her seminal and beloved Young Adult novel Noughts in 2001. The groundbreaking book imagines a world where Africa developed technologically ahead of Europeans and enslaved its people. Noughts & Crosses is set in a parallel universe in 21st Century Britain where black people – Crosses – are the ruling race and white people – Noughts – represent the lower class. In the novel, Britain is divided by de facto racial segregation, despite the abolition of white slavery for some time.
The story sees two people across the racial divide falling in love against the odds in a Romeo and Juliet style tragedy.
The BBC announced in 2016 it was developing a television adaptation of the book with the six-part series expected to be coming out at some point this year.
Noughts & Crosses will see Peaky Blinders actor Jack Rowan taking on the role of Callum McGregor and rising star Masali Baduza portraying Sephy Hadley, the daughter of the British home secretary Kamal Hadley (Paterson Joseph).
With Britain now more divided than ever before as Brexit looms large on the horizon, the explosive premise is likely to spark numerous conversations about race and class relations in the UK.
READ MORE: Noughts and Crosses BBC TV series release date, cast, trailer, plot
Noughts and Crosses will be airing on the BBC in 2019
Noughts and Crosses could be more controversial than The Handmaid’s Tale
Noughts & Crosses could be just as controversial as Hulu’s dystopian series The Handmaid’s Tale, which has ignited debates over abortion and women’s rights.
Pro-Choice groups in the US have dressed in the red and white garb of the Handmaid’s during protests, the uniform becoming a powerful symbol of battling against Gilead-esque policies that are being brought in.
The first Handmaid’s Tale demonstrations started off two years ago in Texas and have since spread across the globe, with people in Ireland and Croatia donning similar outfits in defiance of the erosion of women’s rights.
The Handmaid’s Tale costume has become just as synonymous with fighting the system as the Guy Fawkes masks from 2006’s V for Vendetta, an adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel of the same name about battling an authoritarian regime.
The BBC has yet to confirm a release date but the show proved controversial even during filming.
Noughts & Crosses was shot on location in South Africa with extras refusing to return after discovering the premise of the show.
Speaking about the inspiration for Noughts & Crosses, which was Blackman’s 50th novel no less, she cited the Stephen Lawrence case which is widely considered to be one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in recent British history.
At a recent talk at the Southbank Centre attended by Express.co.uk, the former Children’s Laureate explained: “The way it came about was from the time I started writing, I was always criticised for not writing about writing racism – as if as a black writer that was the only thing I was allowed to write about.
The Hanamaid’s Tale has inspired protesters to wear costumes from the show
“I wanted to write the books I’d missed as a child, like thrillers and mysteries and whodunits.
“But then it was around the time of the Stephen Lawrence case and the way the Lawrence family were treated made me so angry.
“I thought, ‘I want to write about racism. I want to write about slavery and the legacy of slavery and racism and so on.’”
However, when she told her family and friends about her plan, she admitted she got an “underwhelming” response and questioned about why she wanted to broach such a painful subject.
Blackman, who penned the Doctor Who Rosa Parks episode last year, added: “All these people assuming what was going to be in the book before I’d written a word.”
Noughts and Crosses author Malorie Blackman was inspired by the Stephen Lawrence case
So instead she decided to play with people’s assumptions and inverted the racial power plays existing in the world.
She said: “It was coalescing in my head and the thing that brought it together was the title.”
Blackman had been contemplating numerous names including Snakes and Ladders, in reference to the up and down of class and power.
She decided upon Noughts & Crosses, saying: “At the risk of sounding arty, farty, literati, I loved the idea that Noughts and Crosses is that game that nobody plays past childhood because you can’t win at it.
“So what’s the point? To me, it was a metaphor to racism. If one part of society isn’t equal, then no parts of society can be truly equal.”
Noughts & Crosses will be coming to BBC One later this year