Firebird Pictures, the BBC Studios-backed drama production house co-founded by former BBC Commissioning Editor Elizabeth Kilgarriff, has won the option for debut novel WAHALA by author Nikki May, fighting off competition from multiple bidders.

Three thirty-something Anglo-Nigerian female friends are living in London, successfully navigating a world that mixes roast dinners with jollof rice: Ronke, desperate to settle down, is in love with Kayode; Boo has a gorgeous husband and daughter, but feels unfulfilled and unsure where she belongs; Simi’s life seems perfect, but she’s crippled by imposter syndrome, and her husband thinks they’re trying for a baby. She’s not. When the charismatic Isobel arrives in their lives, tension mounts until a hidden trauma reveals itself in a tragic act.

Firebird’s Kilgarriff, whose credits include Bodyguard, Luther and The Cry, said: “Being entrusted by Nikki to bring the wonderful WAHALA to screen is a huge privilege.  Putting female friendship under the spotlight and featuring real, funny and refreshingly imperfect women, Nikki has created a story that is both utterly relatable and fantastically epic – everything you could want to make standout, thrilling and entertaining drama with plenty to say about our lives today”.

Nikki May said: “Ten minutes into the first Zoom with Firebird, I knew WAHALA had found the perfect home. Liz’s passion and ambition for my story won me over. Her vision was uncannily in sync with what I’d dared to dream. I think Liz might actually beat me in a WAHALA character quiz. I’m beyond thrilled.  A huge thank you to my book-to-screen agent Josie Freedman at ICM. She believed in WAHALA from day one and I’m so grateful for her support.”

Madeleine Milburn said: “I am so thrilled for Nikki that WAHALA has landed with the brilliant Firebird Pictures! They have such a unique creative vision for the project and such big ambitions, I know they will make a phenomenal adaptation!”

TV Rights were acquired by Firebird co-founder Craig Holleworth from ICM literary agent Josie Freedom on behalf of Hannah Ladds at the Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency. 

Jon Creamer