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Michaela Coel and John Goodman in new BBC Two thriller Black Earth Rising

The acting duo will appear in the hard-hitting series, set to air later this year.


Michaela Coel and John Goodman will star in Black Earth Rising (PA)

Michaela Coel and John Goodman will star in Black Earth Rising (PA)

Michaela Coel and John Goodman will star in Black Earth Rising (PA)

Chewing Gum’s Michaela Coel will swap comedy for drama in new international thriller Black Earth Rising, in which she will appear alongside Hollywood star John Goodman.

The new eight-part series, about the prosecution of international war crimes and the West’s relationship with contemporary Africa, was written by Hugo Blick and will air on BBC Two later this year.

A co-production with Netflix, the fictional series will take place across the UK, Europe, Africa and Asia and will explore issues of justice, guilt and self-determination.


Black Earth Rising

Black Earth Rising

BBC/Drama Republic/Des Willie

Black Earth Rising

Coel, who created and starred in Bafta-winning Channel 4 sitcom Chewing Gum, will play Kate Ashby, who was rescued as a child during the Rwandan genocide and was adopted by international criminal law prosecutor Eve Ashby, played by Dame Harriet Walter.

Things unravel for Kate, now working as a legal investigator in the law chambers of Michael Ennis (Goodman), when Eve takes on a case at the International Criminal Court involving an African militia leader.

Black Earth Rising will also star Olivier Award-winner Noma Dumezweni (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), Tamara Tunie (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), Lucian Msamati (Kiri) and Abena Ayivor (A United Kingdom).

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Coel said: “Kate Ashby’s story is inspirational, it was an honour to play a character in possession of so much strength and integrity.”

Blick, best known for TV series The Shadow Line and The Honourable Woman, said: “‘The past isn’t dead, it isn’t even past’.

“I was never quite sure exactly what this famous quote meant but by following the fictional journey of a young black British woman on an epic and deeply personal quest to bring a Rwandan genocidaire to legal justice – now I do.

“And now I know just how critical, difficult and terrifying that phrase can seem to anyone in pursuit, and denial, of international criminal justice.”

Patrick Holland, BBC Two controller, said: “There are few writers in the world who can deliver such compelling drama whilst exploring such powerful, important and challenging issues.

“With Michaela and John leading a stunning cast, this promises to be unforgettable television.”

Black Earth Rising’s executive producer Greg Brenman described the series as “a towering project that tackles challenging issues on a global scale”.

The series will premiere on BBC Two later this year and will stream internationally on Netflix outside the UK.

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