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On 5th March Malorie Blackman’s best-selling young adult novel, ‘Noughts and Crosses’ aired on BBC 1. The first series contains six episodes which unfurls the dark, dystopian plot. Without giving away too many spoilers, the novel centres around a tragic love story between childhood friends, Callum and Sephy. Society is prejudiced against Caucasians (‘noughts’) and the superior race (‘crosses)’, oppress them in an inversion of American history. Think Romeo and Juliet, but instead of houses, race is the major opponent. Noughts begin to rebel under their oppression, leading to a violent terrorist militia forming, and under which Callum and his family become embroiled in. I definitely recommend reading the book – it was a real page-turner, and brought to light important issues for me as a pre-teen. 

   

The adapted show stars, Jack Rowan and Masali Baduza, two relatively unknown actors who play the star-crossed lovers. Baduza lit up each scene she was in, leading me to sympathise with this privileged daughter of a politician. Josh Dylan (recognisable as Bill from Mamma Mia 2), who plays Callum’s more rebellious brother Jude, was also great to watch.

 

The urban setting really added another realist dimension to the show, particularly as you see Callum’s working-class family living in tower-block poverty. The fashionable clothing and music reflect that of African society, for example braids and the dhuku is worn by nought women in a pseudo-cultural appropriation. The political instability is potent in the show, with police interrupting peaceful protests, mirroring the quite recent chaotic race riots of America and also the 2019 Hong Kong protests, which provides a sense of foreboding danger.  

 

Episode one begins with the murder of a nought boy, Callum’s friend Danny, which sparks the violent eruption. Sephy starts to question her people’s nonchalant reaction to the murder after reuniting with Callum, who also joins the majority black army, into which whites have only newly been accepted. This strongly reminded me of ‘The Little Rock Nine’ – a group of teens who attended an all-white school in 1950s America. Episode two sees the lovers struggling to find opportunities to meet, whilst Sephy’s boyfriend, Lekan, targets Callum.   

 

Overall, I highly recommend watching this show – with only six episodes it won’t take up too much revision time! Plus it is very thought-provoking in terms of how we see race both historically and presently.

 

Rating 4/5

Kate Welsh

Nottingham '20

3rd Year English and Classics student at Univeristy of Nottingham
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