Small Axe BBC release date: How many episodes are in Small Axe?

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Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen is launching a collection of films on the BBC, which will air on Sunday evenings. Ahead of their release, has everything you need to know about what they’re about, how many there are and what the director himself revealed about them in a recent Q&A.

How many episodes are in Small Axe?

Small Axe begins on BBC One at 9pm on Sunday, November 15, as a new anthology mini-series.

The selection of films all centre around the experiences of London’s West Indian community from the 1960s to the mid-1980s.

They are all directed by acclaimed filmmaker Steve McQueen, who is known for directing 12 Years a Slave, Shame, Hunger and Widows.

However, he has been working on Small Axe for the longest of all of his projects as it is 11 years in the making for the filmmaker.

In total, there are five films in the series, which will be broadcast across consecutive Sundays on the BBC.

For McQueen, this was very important as he was adamant he wanted them shown on the channel.

Speaking at a recent screening, he explained to media including “The reason why I wanted it on the BBC was because I wanted my mum to watch it. That’s what I’ve always said from day one.

“These are national stories so I wanted these stories to go through the bloodstream of the country.

“I want it to be accessible and the BBC is for me the only organisation who can do that.”

The five films differ in length and all tell individual stories depicting part of London’s West Indian community.

Some of the films are based on true stories while others draw their inspiration from history.

Here is all you need to know about the films, what they are about and who appears in the cast.

Mangrove – November 15

This is the first of the five films and focuses on the story of Frank Crichlow (played by Shaun Parkes) who owned a Notting Hill Caribbean restaurant called Mangrove.

Mangrove was a meeting place for intellectuals and activists but was also a hub for racially motivated raids from the local police.

This led to the community organising a peaceful protest in 1970 where nine men and women were arrested and put on trial.

The film focuses on the court case which followed and stars actors like Letitia Wright, Jack Lowden and Malachi Kirby.

Lovers Rock – November 22

Lovers Rock is based on a fictional blues party in 1980 and follows two young people as they fall in love.

The film stars Amarah-Jae St Aubyn in her screen debut opposite BAFTA Rising Star winner Michael Ward.


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Red, White and Blue – November 29

Based on a true story, Red, White and Blue is about a young forensic scientist named Leroy Logan (John Boyega).

When he sees his father being assaulted by two police officers, he decides to join the force to try and combat racism from within.

Star Wars actor Boyega stars opposite Steve Toussaint, Tyrone Huntley, Nathan Vidal and Jaden Oshenye.

Alex Wheatle – December 6

This film tells the true story of award-winning writer Alex Wheatle (Sheyi Cole) across his life.

In the title role is newcomer Sheyi Cole who appears alongside Jonathan Jules in the film.

Education – December 13

The final film in McQueen’s anthology series is Education, which is a coming-of-age story for Kingsley (Kenyah Sandy).

The story tells of a young boy sent to a school for those with ‘special needs’ for being disruptive in class in an unofficial segregation policy.

The film also stars Sharlene Whyte, Daniel Francis and Naomi Ackie.

Small Axe begins on BBC One at 9pm on November 15.

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