David Oyelowo is EPing a limited series in development with the BBC about Biafra with Fremantle and Richard Johns’ newly-launched Argo Films.
Biafra is set in the UK and Nigeria, with the story unfolding across two main timelines: the present day, and the 1967-70 Biafra War – which remains a largely forgotten secret in the shared histories of both countries. Seen through the eyes of a young Black British woman, the series will combine character-led personal story with themes of family, identity and belonging at its heart.
BAFTA-nominated Selma star Oyelowo, who has Nigerian heritage, described Biafra as “one of my most treasured projects,” satisfying his desire to “see African stories told at the highest level.”
The series is in development with the BBC although hasn’t been greenlit yet. Fremantle is strategic partner with Oyelowo’s Yoruba Saxon Productions producing alongside Argo. Laurence Olivier Award-winning writer, Bola Agbaje (Gone Too Far) is writing the script and Ngozi Onwurah (Shoot the Messenger, Mama Africa) is co- developing and attached to direct.
Shadow of a Vampire producer Johns launched Argo last week and is also behind a Disney+ short starring John Travolta and Ben Radcliffe titled The Shepherd.
He said: “Britain and Nigeria have a hugely important, multi-layered, and historic relationship, one that is very much alive today. With this series, we are setting ourselves the mission of telling an incredibly powerful story about discovering and reclaiming a lost identity and a forgotten history.”
Additional executive producers, alongside Johns and Oyelowo include Turnover Films’ Yvonne Isimeme Ibazebo (Rye Lane, Top Boy, Guerrilla) and Fremantle’s Christian Vesper (Top of the Lake, No Man’s Land).