This Controversial New TV Drama Flips The Script On Systemic Racism And It’s An Absolute Must-Watch

The series powerfully re-imagines a world of black supremacy and white oppression

If there’s any one TV show that needs to catapult to the top of your must-watch list in 2020, it’s the equal parts controversial and captivating: Noughts + Crosses.

Newly available on Australia’s latest streaming service Binge, the show is based on author Malorie Blackman’s award-winning book series of the same name.

Flipping the script on systemic racism, the six-part BBC drama depicts an alternate reality of modern day Britain, in which the country had previously been colonised by a host of countries in West Africa (forming the ‘Aprican Empire’), and black people (‘crosses’) dominate the positions of power and wealth, long oppressing white people (‘noughts’) in the process.

“Over 700 years ago, the Aprican Empire invaded Europe. Aprica colonised the continent and reached as far as Albion. Albion has been under Aprican rule ever since,” it reveals in the opening.

The reverse reality also features a forbidden star-crossed love story between wealthy politician’s daughter Sephy (beautifully portrayed by Masali Baduza) and Callum (Jack Rowan), a white member of the underclass who were once slaves to the ‘Crosses’, the black ruling class of which Sephy is a member.

Check out the trailer below for a preview of Noughts + Crosses.

Much like the dystopian reimagining in The Handmaid’s Tale, the show borrows from numerous events throughout history.

“This show does not aim to define any single experience. It borrows from history across the world, be it South African apartheid, British imperialism or the US civil rights movement,” executive producer Preethi Mavahalli told The Guardian.

“The universal message is that all types of prejudice are wrong. Malorie’s ambition in writing the novels was to allow people to walk in the shoes of others.”

While the show courted controversy when it first aired in the U.K. in March 2020, with some online claiming it promoted “anti-whiteness” and was “race-baiting”, both Blackman and the creatives involved in the show have spoken out against the accusations. 

“Btw, to those accusing me of being anti-white or stating I must hate white people to create such a story as Noughts and Crosses, I’m not even going to dignify your absurd nonsense with a response,” Blackman wrote on Twitter.

“Go take a seat waaaay over there in the cold, dark and bitter haters’ corner.”

Similarly, actress Kiké Brimah, who plays Minerva Hadley, Sephy’s older sister, emphasised that the show is meant to be “uncomfortable” – a point that has become especially pertinent given the much-needed conversations occurring around race and anti-racism in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.

“I want this show to reach people like Claire from Devon – people who are naive to these experiences. I want people to feel uncomfortable with what they are seeing. For you to see another person’s point of view, you have to go through it,” she told The Guardian.

Related stories