Letitia Wright in 'Mangrove'. Picture: Supplied
Letitia Wright in 'Mangrove'. Picture: Supplied

Steve McQueen’s anthology series 'Mangrove' to air on BBC Brit

By Alyssia Birjalal Time of article published Nov 12, 2020

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The first part of Steve McQueen’s anthology seriesSmall Axe” airs on BBC Brit on Monday, November 16 at 8pm.

Mangrove, starring Shaun Parkes and Letitia Wright, tells a personal story from London's minority Caribbean community, whose lives have been shaped by their own force of will despite rampant systemic racism and discrimination.

Dedicated to the late George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, Mangrove comes at a time where these conversations are more prevalent than ever.

Mangrove, based on true events, centres on Frank Crichlow (Parkes), the owner of Notting Hill’s Caribbean restaurant,Mangrove”, a lively community base for locals, intellectuals, and activists.

In a reign of racist terror, the local police raid Mangrove time after time, making Frank and the local community take to the streets in peaceful protests in 1970.

When nine men and women, including Frank and leader of the British Black Panther Movement, Altheia Jones-LeCointe (Wright), and activist Darcus Howe (Malachi Kirby), are wrongly arrested and charged with incitement to riot, a highly publicised trial ensues, leading to a hard-fought win for those fighting against discrimination.

Wright, who plays the leader of the British Black Panther Movement, Altheia Jones-LeCointe said she wishes the story had been told sooner but blessed McQueen for honouring the elders.

“Their stories are now being told and brought to the forefront.

“As a young person, I didn’t know the majority of the things that we are speaking about in this project.

“I feel really ashamed that there was so much fight for us and that young people in our generation today do not understand the hard work and the love that’s gone into fighting for our rights to housing, to education and our human rights to be respected,” said Wright.

She said although educated on African American history many haven’t heard of their history in the UK.

“We are educated on the African American side but many haven’t heard our side of things here in the UK. Mangrove and Small Axe as a whole is brilliant because we are able to educate the rest of the diaspora and the rest of the world about what was happening in the UK, much of which was hidden,” Wright said.

Academy Award-winning director, Steve McQueen said the seed of Small Axe was sown 11 years ago, soon after his first film, Hunger.

“Initially, I had conceived of it as a TV series, but as it developed, I realised these stories had to stand alone as original films yet at the same time be part of a collective.

“The anthology, anchored in the West Indian experience in London, is a celebration of all that that community has succeeded in achieving against the odds.

“To me, it is a love letter to Black resilience, triumph, hope, music, joy and love as well as to friendship and family. Oh, and let’s not forget about food too,” said McQueen.

Watch “Mangrove” on Monday, November 16 at 8pm on BBC Brit (DStv channel 120).

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