The BBC has commissioned What It Feels Like For A Girl inspired by the memoir of the same name by writer and journalist Paris Lees.

Billed as a “wild, anarchic Y2K spin on a coming-of-age drama”, it will be made by Hera Pictures (Mary & George, Temple, Hamnet) for BBC Three and iPlayer, the eight-part series will be adapted for television by Lees and the lead director is Chris Sweeney (The Tourist, Back To Life).

It’s a new millennium – Madonna, Moloko and Basement Jaxx top the charts, and there’s a whole world to explore. But teenager Byron is stuck in a small working-class town that hasn’t been the same since the coal mine shut in the 80s. Sick of mam, sick of dad, sick of being beaten up for “talkin’ like a poof”. Sick of everyone shuffling about like the living dead, going on about kitchens they’re too skint to do up and marriages they’re too scared to leave. Byron needs to get away, and doesn’t care how.

Life explodes in a rush when Byron escapes to Nottingham’s kinetic underworld and discovers the East Midlands’ premier podium-dancer-cum-hellraiser, the mesmerising Lady Die. Byron is adopted into Lady Die’s hilarious and chaotic family of trouble-makers – “The Fallen Divas”. Between them, they beg, steal and skank their way on a rollercoaster ride of hedonism at the heart of the UK’s early 2000s club scene.

The party can’t last though, and when Byron is seduced by bad-boy Liam, a shocking encounter occurs that will change life forever.

Writer and executive producer Paris Lees says: “I’m excited, hysterical, thrown and overblown with bliss, but most of all I’m just having so much fun bringing this universe to life in a visual medium. It’s a primal scream – from the depths of a council estate – against a world that would prefer people who don’t fit the norm didn’t exist. But we do and we’re not going away, we’re not apologising and we’re not shutting up. This is a deeply personal project and I’m thrilled to be working with the BBC and the team at Hera who have been so supportive of both me and my creative vision. The fact Chris Sweeney is directing, well, I feel like I’m top of the pops. I can’t wait for everyone to see what we’re cooking up.”

Liza Marshall, executive producer for Hera Pictures says: “Paris is a truly exciting talent. She has created a daringly distinctive world, richly drawn characters that viewers will fall in love with, and a compelling story that will challenge perceptions. With Paris, the BBC and Chris Sweeney, we have found the dream team of creative partners and we could not be more thrilled to be working with them to bring this ground-breaking series to life in a way that is just as funny, gobby, joyful, heart-breaking, and thought-provoking as her original memoir.”

Lindsay Salt, Director of BBC Drama says: “We’re delighted to join forces with Paris Lees, Chris Sweeney and all at Hera Pictures to bring Paris’ fantastic debut book to BBC Three and iPlayer. Anyone who’s read What It Feels Like For A Girl will know what a hugely distinctive, surprising and moving work it is, and its journey to the BBC – adapted by Paris herself – sees the arrival of an exciting new voice in UK television.”

Lead director and executive producer Chris Sweeney says: “What a team to be making this with. Paris is a unique talent, Hera Pictures are an extraordinary bunch, and the team at the BBC have been so supportive of what is a truly special story. I’m very excited about this show.”

What It Feels Like For A Girl (8×45′) is created and written by Paris Lees. Chris Sweeney is lead director. Executive producers are Liza Marshall and Ron O’Berst for Hera Pictures, with Nawfal Faizullah for the BBC. Paris Lees and Chris Sweeney will also serve as executive producers. Filming will take place in 2024, and What It Feels Like For A Girl will air on BBC Three and iPlayer.

Jon Creamer

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