Nikki Amuka-Bird (Luther) and Life In Squares star Phoebe Fox have been set as the co-leads in NW, BBC Two’s 90 minute adaption of the Zadie Smith novel, TVWise has learned.
NW tells the story of Natalie and Leah, friends who grew up together in North West London, whose lives have taken them in different directions. Natalie’s wealth and ambition has set her apart from the friends and family she grew up with; and she finds herself asking not only who she really is, but where she belongs.
Nikki Amuka-Bird plays the outwardly successful but unfulfilled Natalie. “I couldn’t be more excited to be taking on the challenge of playing one of Zadie Smith’s characters”, Amuka-Bird said. “She writes vivid, intellectually and emotionally complex women that you can sink your teeth into. NW was my postcode for many years and I was amazed to read a book that so brilliantly and honestly captured the reality of life in one of our most multi-cultural suburbs, so it’s thrilling to be involved in bringing it to the screen.”
Phoebe Fox has been cast as Leah, Natalie’s more grounded friend whose life is also at a crossroads. “Zadie Smith wrote such an honest book about not just North West London but the whole city, and the complex people that inhabit it”, she added. “Her women in particular are so finely drawn; and Rachel Bennette has done a beautiful job in bringing them to life in this adaptation. It’s such a pleasure to be a part of bringing all this to the screen.”
In addition to Nikki Amuka-Bird and Phoebe Fox, BBC Two’s adaptation of NW will also feature Richie Campbell (Anuvahood) as Nathan and O.T. Fagbenle (Looking, The Five) as Felix. Newcomers Rosalind Eleazar, Ronke Adekoluejo and James MacCallum also star.
The one-off drama was penned by Bel Ami scribe Rachel Bennette and is set up at the ITV owned Mammoth Screen. Betsan Morris Evans is the producer, while Preethi Mavahalli, Damien Timmer, Lucy Richer and Maxine Watson are executive producing.
Bullet Boy helmer Saull Dibb it attached to direct the project, which is now filming in and around North West London, with locations including Kilburn Station and Queen’s Park. “I am incredibly excited to be making the film version of Zadie Smith’s bold and brilliant NW, and bringing to life the real, diverse and vibrant community it reflects”, Dibb said.
“With the story of two young women at its heart, NW will capture the beauty and challenges of true friendship as class differences threaten to divide them and they each struggle with conforming to society”, added Lucy Richer, the BBC’s Acting Controller of Drama. “As we are taken on their journey we hope this special one-off drama with many contemporary and relatable themes will touch the BBC Two audience, and we are delighted that Zadie Smith has allowed us to bring her story to screen in a truly authentic way.”