Tamara Lawrance (King Charles III, Undercover) and Hayley Atwell (Howards End, Agent Carter) have been set as the leads in The Long Song, BBC One’s three-part adaptation of Andrea Levy’s novel of the same name.
The Long Song is set during the final days of slavery in 19th century Jamaica and tells the story of the strong-willed, young slave July (Tamara Lawrance) on a plantation owned by her odious mistress Caroline Mortimer (Hayley Atwell). When a charming new arrival to the island, Robert Goodwin, becomes the new overseer, July and Caroline are both intrigued by his seemingly revolutionary determination to improve the plantation for the slaves and mistress alike.
Rounding out the cast is Jack Lowden (Dunkirk) as Robert Goodwing, Sir Lenny Henry (Broadchurch) as Godfrey, Doña Croll (EastEnders) as Old July, Sharon Duncan-Brewster (The Boy With The Topknot) as Kitty, Ayesha Antoine (Chewing Gum) as Molly, Arinzé Kene (King Lear) as Thomas, Ansu Kabia (Murder On The Orient Express) as James Richards, Jordan Bolger (Peaky Blinders) as Nimrod, Joy Richardson (Children of Men) as Miss Rose, Madeleine Mantock (Charmed) as Miss Clara and Leo Bill (Taboo) as John Howarth.
“Every day at work is enlightening. A real blessing to be amongst this cast and crew, playing a character as subversive as July. She relishes mutiny with wit and courage; finding ways to win in spite of her circumstances”, said Tamara Lawrance. “She also rings true to Jamaica’s national heroes – Nanny, Paul Bogle and Sam Sharpe – who, by standing up for their own humanity, shifted world history. I believe stories like these illuminate the legacy of slavery in relation to where we are today. It’s all still relevant!”
“I am delighted to be part of this beautiful story written with warmth, sensitivity, humour and intelligence by Andrea Levy. Playing the deeply flawed Caroline Mortimer is a thrilling challenge and entirely new territory for me as an actor”, added Hayley Atwell. “Audiences will fall in love with the story’s remarkable heroine, July, who endures on-going abuses of power with dignity and poise, surviving injustices that were devastatingly prevalent during this time and place in history. It is a story that demands to be told.”
The Long Song has been adapted as a three-parter by Sarah Williams. It was commissioned by the BBC’s Controller of BBC Drama Piers Wenger and the BBC’s Director of Content Charlotte Moore and is being produced by Heyday Television, a joint venture with NBCUniversal International Studios. Mahalia Belo is the director, while Roopesh Parekh is the series producer. The executive producers are are David Heyman and Rosie Alison for Heyday Television, and Ben Irving for BBC One, alongside Andrea Levy and Sarah Williams.
“Andrea Levy’s magnificent, poignant and stirring novel has been beautifully adapted by Sarah Williams for BBC One”, the BBC’s Piers Wenger added in a statement. “At the heart of the story is the extraordinarily resilient and spirited Miss July, who I’m thrilled will be played by the fantastic Tamara Lawrance. With a hugely talented cast of actors joining Tamara, from Hayley Atwell to Jack Lowden and Lenny Henry, I know this sweeping series about love and survival will excite BBC One audiences.”