BBC Adaptation of Noughts + Crosses sees race roles reversed

A BBC drama series will depict a 'reverse apartheid' where dark-skinned people run a society that oppresses light-skinned people. 

The series is an adaptation of Malorie Blackman's 2001 book Noughts + Crosses - a drama set in an alternate world where Britain, known as Albion, has been ruled by the 'Aprican Empire' for 700 years. 

It focuses on the forbidden love between the characters Sephy - the daughter of the racist home secretary - and Callum McGregorm a white teenager who is the son of their family maid. 

Rapper Stormzy appears in a later episode as the editor of a right-wing newspaper - a character who does not appear in the books.

Paterson Joseph, the 55-year-old actor who played Johnson in Channel 4's Peep Show, plays the complicated character of the country's home secretary - who is depicted as racist but also a loyal and affectionate family man. 

The book Noughts + Crosses was set largely in school, but the series has aged up the characters to their late teens. Pictured, Callum, left, with a gun and Sephy, right

The book Noughts + Crosses was set largely in school, but the series has aged up the characters to their late teens. Pictured, Callum, left, with a gun and Sephy, right

The series focuses on the forbidden love between the characters Sephy - the daughter of the racist home secretary - and Callum McGregorm a white teenager who is the son of their family maid

The series focuses on the forbidden love between the characters Sephy - the daughter of the racist home secretary - and Callum McGregorm a white teenager who is the son of their family maid

'It was important to me to make him as rounded as possible,' the actor said at the series' premiere, according to the Times.

'Just because somebody is a racist, it doesn't mean they are not human. It just means that they perhaps have had a certain upbringing, or have had things reinforced that have made them ignorant of the other.'

The television adaptation, which was filmed on location in South Africa, begins on BBC One tomorrow night at 9pm.

All six episodes will be made available immediately on BBC iPlayer to encourage marathon viewing of the series.  

In the drama, the London skyline features a Statue of Liberty-sized depiction of an African woman. 

White characters - including the maid Helen Baxendale - are also seen wearing their hair in traditional black styles.

Stormzy (a huge Noughts + Crosses fans) plays Kolawale, the editor of a right-wing newspaper. The character does not appear in the books and the team hope diehard fans will accept him

Stormzy (a huge Noughts + Crosses fans) plays Kolawale, the editor of a right-wing newspaper. The character does not appear in the books and the team hope diehard fans will accept him 

Josh Dylan plays Jude, a white rebel with strong anti-black opinions.

The actor said it was 'unpleasant' to depict the character's views, and he hopes viewers see he is just a 'lost young man'. 

There are two races in Albion: the Crosses, darker-skinned with money, power, jobs and education - and the Noughts, lighter-skinned, poorer and usually working as labourers and servants. 

When Callum, a Nought, falls in love with Sephy, a high-status Cross, the ramifications include terror attacks, kidnapping and a tragic parting for the star-crossed lovers.

Jack Rowan, who plays Callum, grew up in a multicultural part of London, boxing with kids of all backgrounds, and for him the premise of the six-part series was uncomfortable. 

BBC1’s gritty adaptation of British author Malorie Blackman’s inter-racial love story Noughts + Crosses will premiere this week. Pictured, Masali Baduza as lead character Sephy

BBC1’s gritty adaptation of British author Malorie Blackman’s inter-racial love story Noughts + Crosses will premiere this week. Pictured, Masali Baduza as lead character Sephy

Jack Rowan, who plays Callum (pictured), grew up in a multicultural part of London, boxing with kids of all backgrounds, and for him the premise of the six-part series was uncomfortable

Jack Rowan, who plays Callum (pictured), grew up in a multicultural part of London, boxing with kids of all backgrounds, and for him the premise of the six-part series was uncomfortable

‘When we started, it was a shock,’ says Jack, who played Bonnie Gold in Peaky Blinders. ‘We did a week-long military training boot camp and I felt isolated when the instructor segregated the cast. 

'When we’re on set the supporting artists are told, “Callum is a Nought, give him dirty looks.” It’s the closest I’ve come to understanding how that feels.’

Callum follows the rules, works hard and seems to be forging a path in life for himself. 

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