By Tony Sokol
Idris Elba will co-star in the upcoming political drama series Guerrilla about an underground political resistance cell in 1970s London. The series is a co-production between U.K.-based Fifty Fathoms (Fortitude) and ABC Studios’ cable-focused arm, ABC Signature. Guerilla will air on Sky Atlantic in the U.K. and n Showtime in the U.S. The six-part series will be written and produced by John Ridley, the Oscar-winning writer of 12 Years a Slave. Ridley will direct the first two episodes and the finale. Sam Miller will direct the remaining episodes.
“I am both humbled by and impressed with Idris’s passion towards bringing this story to life,” Ridley said in a statement. “I share his commitment for populating the culture with driven and complicated people of color.”
Guerilla will be Elba’s first TV drama since he starred on Luther at BBC1. Elba will also be one of the executive producers on the show which will be co-produced by his production company, Green Door Pictures.
“It’s been a longtime desire of mine to collaborate with Mr. Ridley and his work here is nothing short of a masterclass in character-building and storytelling. TV is in for a treat,” Elba said in a statement.
“Rarely does a project pitch the personal and the political in such a flawless combination,” Anne Mensah, Sky’s head of drama, said in a statement. “Guerrilla presents characters you will fall in love with but also a world and a part of black British history that is rarely tackled in such a bold and compelling manner.”
“We’re excited to partner with our friends at Sky to bring a fascinating and unexplored story spearheaded by John and Idris, two major creative talents at the top of their game,” said Showtime president and CEO David Nevins. “Guerilla will surely keep our audience at their edge of their seats.”
According to the synopsis, Guerrilla will be a love story set during the social upheaval and activism of 1970s London. A politically active couple liberates a political prisoner and forms a radical underground cell that targets the “black power desk,” a true life counterintelligence unit within the special branch that is “dedicated to crushing all forms of black activism.”
Ridley is still waiting to see what will happen with his ABC anthology American Crime, which will explore social issues including racism.
American Crime ended its second season last month. It was nominated fr 10 Primetime Emmy Award. He is currently in production on Presence, an ABC drama pilot about an unlicensed private investigator exploring the cross-section of Los Angeles. Ridley is also attached to a top-secret Marvel drama that is whispered to be a reinvention of an existing superhero character.
The couple, Marcus and Pinto will be played by Babou Ceesay and Freida Pinto.
Penny Dreadful’s Rory Kinnear, Nathaniel Martello-White, Daniel Mays, Brandon Scott, Nicholas Pinnock, Zawe Ashton and Denise Gough will round out the cast.
Ceesay will play Marcus, Jas’s partner in the political activism that becomes militants. Rory Kinnear and Daniel Mays will play Special Branch police officers named Pence and Cullen. Zawe Ashton will play Omega, a rising leader in the black community. Denise Gough will play Fallon. Martello-White will play the charismatic radical Dhari. Nicholas Pinnock plays Julian. Brandon Scott plays tough movement loyalist Leroy.plays Leroy, a rough customer who is dedicated to the movement but also has his own policies.
Elba is a Golden Globe and SAG winner best known for The Wire, Luther, Beasts of No Nation, Zootopia and the upcoming Star Trek Beyond and The Dark Tower. He also starred in the summer reboot of The Jungle Book.
Sky announced a slate of new dramas including projects involving John Bradley from Game of Thrones, Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, Julia Stiles, Dawn French, Tim Roth, and Neil Jordan, the director of The Crying Game.
Gurrilla is set to air next year on Showtime and Sky Atlantic.