Wheatle's life story to feature in upcoming McQueen series

Wheatle's life story to feature in upcoming McQueen series

Episode five of "Small Axe", an upcoming film series written and directed by "12 Years a Slave" director Steve McQueen, will showcase the life story of author Alex Wheatle, it has been confirmed.

The development comes as as Wheatle's latest novel, Cane Warriors (Andersen Press), is published this week.

"Small Axe" will be a series of five films written and directed by McQueen, anchored in the West Indian experience in London and covering the 1960s to the 1980s. The series will air on BBC1 from 15th November in the UK, as well as on Amazon Prime in the US.

The fifth episode, named after Wheatle, stars Sheyi Cole and will be live on BBC1 and BBC iplayer on 6th December. 

Wheatle has written several novels, many of them inspired by experiences from his childhood. He was born in Brixton to Jamaican parents, and spent most of his childhood in a Surrey children’s home. After a short stint in prison following the Brixton uprising of 1981, he wrote poems and lyrics and became known as the ‘Brixton Bard’. He has been longlisted for the Carnegie Medal, won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, and was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2008.

 He has sold 29,167 books for £213,747 through Nielsen BookScan's UK Total Consumer Market, with Cranston Knights his bestseller at 5,735 copies sold in paperback.

His latest novel Cane Warriors explores "the horrors of the British slave trade, and the brave men and women who stood up to it and did all they could to overthrow their cruel masters and make a bid for freedom".

Commenting on the release of Cane Warriors, Wheatle said “On Remembrance Sunday every year, the UK honours its fallen dead from the First and Second World Wars and other significant wars. With Cane Warriors, I wanted to honour my ancestry and our glori­ous dead.

"I wanted to lend power to their voices and realise them on the page. I would like my children’s children to learn about the mighty Cane Warriors just as they read about Richard the Lionheart, Joan of Arc and Queen Elizabeth I repelling the Spanish Armada."

Each of the episodes in Steve McQueen’s series "Small Axe" is now dedicated to the memory of George Floyd. “I dedicate these films to George Floyd and all the other black people that have been murdered, seen or unseen, because of who they are, in the US, UK and elsewhere,” McQueen said. “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe. Black Lives Matter.”