NEWS

Casting announced for Michaela Coel's much anticipated drama

23rd October 2019

Filming has started on the brand-new drama, January 22nd (working title). Written by and starring Michaela Coel, January 22nd is a fearless, frank and provocative drama that explores the question of sexual consent in contemporary life and how, in the new landscape of dating and relationships, we make the distinction between liberation and exploitation.

BAFTA award-winning Coel (Black Earth Rising, Chewing Gum) leads the cast in the role of Arabella. She will be joined by Weruche Opia (Inside No9, Sliced) and Paapa Essiedu (Kiri, Press) as well as Aml Ameen (Yardie, Mazerunner), Adam James (Belgravia, Doctor Foster), Sarah Niles (Catastrophe, Rocks) and Ann Akin (Career of Evil, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams: The Commuter).

Also starring are Harriet Webb (White Gold, Plebs), Ellie James (Giri/Haji, C.B Strike), Franc Ashman (Peep Show, Apple Tree Yard), Karan Gill (Flesh & Blood), Natalie Walter (Horrible Histories, Jonathan Creek) and Samson Ajewole, who makes his television debut.

Set in London, where gratification is only an app away, the story centres on Arabella (Coel), a care-free, self-assured Londoner with a group of great friends, a holiday fling-turned aspirational boyfriend in Italy, and a burgeoning writing career.  But when she is spiked with a date-rape drug, she must question and rebuild every element of her life.

Feted as the ‘voice of her generation,’ Arabella is complex, original and highly talented. But, distracted by the pressures of her first triumph, she is struggling to write her second novel and is in danger of becoming destructive and self-absorbed. After being sexually assaulted in a nightclub, her life changes irreversibly and Arabella is forced to reassess everything: her career, her friends, even her family. As Arabella struggles to come to terms with what has happened, she begins a journey of self-discovery. Often painful, sometimes funny, it leads her to some surprising places - and controversial conclusions. 

Michaela Coel says, “We’re incredibly lucky to have pulled together such a talented cast to bring these scripts to life and I look forward to sharing this work with you all next year.”

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, says “We’re thrilled to be working with someone as bold and fearless as Michaela, she has created an ultra-contemporary show which explores the issues of her generation with huge compassion, humour and a raw truthfulness. It’s an incredibly urgent story which the BBC are proud to be telling.”

Amy Gravitt, EVP, HBO Programming, says: “It’s been thrilling to be a part of bringing Michaela’s vision to life.  She writes with such intimacy and immediacy about how we treat one another, while always surprising us with moments of levity.”

Phil Clarke, Executive Producer, says: “It’s incredibly exciting to be working with Michaela again. She has a brave and original vision, and something mature and relevant to say about gender politics, about consent, about gratification, about social media, about her generation. It’s an explosive package.”

The 12x30’ series is a BBC and HBO co-production. It has been commissioned by Piers Wenger for BBC One and produced by Various Artists Ltd and FALKNA for the BBC and HBO. It is executive produced by Michaela Coel for FALKNA Productions, Phil Clarke and Roberto Troni for Various Artists Ltd, and Piers Wenger and Jo McClellan for BBC One. January 22nd (w/t) will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. International Television Distribution, excluding the UK and Ireland where the series will be distributed by BBC Studios. BBC Studios brokered the deal with HBO for US, Canada and International distribution.

Simon Maloney (Peaky Blinders, King Charles III) will produce episodes one to six and Simon Meyers (No Offence, Bancroft) will produce episodes seven to 12. Sam Miller (Luther, Cardiac Arrest) directs episodes one to three, and co directs with Michaela Coel episodes four to twelve.

Filming is underway in London.