Rochelle Neil (The Nevers, Guilt), Yazmin Belo (What Just Happened) and Saffron Coomber (Tracey Beaker Returns, Eastenders) have been cast as the leads in Sir Lenny Henry’s ITV drama Three Little Birds.
The drama, from Banijay labels Tiger Aspect Henry’s production company Douglas Road Productions, is currently filming in The Midlands for transmission on ITV1 in the UK and BritBox International in the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Nordics in 2023.
Three Little Birds is a celebration of immigration, community and the strength of Black womanhood inspired by the stories of Sir Lenny Henry’s mother and all those who have travelled to make Britain their home.
Three Little Birds has been commissioned for ITV1 by Head of Drama, Polly Hill, who is also overseeing production from the channel’s perspective.
Set in 1957, post-Windrush, and amidst the booming decade set alight by promise, the rhythm of rock and roll, swing, Hollywood starlets and fabulous fashion Three Little Birds will introduce Dudley and the rest of the world to gregarious sisters Leah (Neil) and Chantrelle (Coomber) and their virtuous, bible-loving acquaintance, Hosanna (Belo), as they board a cruise ship from Jamaica bound for a new life in Blighty.
Sir Lenny Henry says: “I think I’ve been waiting to write this show for my entire life. It’s inspired by my mother’s numerous stories about travelling to Britain by boat in the mid- fifties. However, the joyous aspect of this project is the way we as a team have created a whole new narrative environment so that we can tell a whole raft of stories. Leah, Chantrelle and Hosanna) as portrayed by Rochelle, Saffron and Yasmin) pour their hearts into this rendition of all our parents’ stories. Our directors, Charles, Yero and Darcia are supercharged and ready, bringing the whole thing to glorious life. I am so proud to be associated with these tales of cold streets, uniting in the face of the traditional obstacles (racism, misogyny, poverty- and stolen moments of love, affection and sisterhood. Big respect to everyone involved. Phew!”
The series also stars Bobby Gordon (Hollyoaks) as the sisters’ new factory-worker colleague Shelton, and Arthur Darvill (The Sandman, Broadchurch) and Beth Hayes (Mr Selfridge, Black Mirror) as Chantrelle’s employers Mr and Mrs Wantage, who expect far more from her than just cooking shepherd’s pie and minding their three children as their new live-in Nanny.
Tiger Aspect Productions will produce the six-part drama, written by Sir Lenny Henry and guest episode writers Carol Russell and Avril Russell, in association with his production company Douglas Road Productions. Both companies are part of the Banijay UK group.
Charles McDougall, Yero Timi Biu and Darcia Martin will direct two episodes each and Lenny Henry, Lucy Bedford, Kate Crowe, Russell T Davies, Charles MacDougall and Angela Ferreira and will serve as executive producers with Stella Nwimo producing. Banijay Rights will handle international distribution. The series is co-produced by BritBox International, with Diederick Santer as Executive Producer.
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