10 Black British TV shows and films that you can stream right now
8 October 2021, 17:01
Series and movies like I May Destroy You, Rocks and Small Axe are must-see projects.
It's Black History Month in the UK and, to celebrate, here is a list of Black British TV shows and films you can stream today.
Black History Month takes place every October in the UK. The month is used to recognise and honour Black British history and culture. It's also used to educate people about the ways in which Black people still face oppression and to encourage those of us who aren't Black to reflect about the ways in which we're complicit in racism, and make concrete change.
With that in mind, we wanted to shine a light on just a few iconic Black British movies and series that you need to watch.
1) I May Destroy You - BBC iPlayer
If you haven't watched I May Destroy You yet, where have you been? The series, written and starring Michaela Coel, tells the poignant story of Arabella, a Twitter star turned novelist, whose life is turned upside down after she is raped. Viewers have praised the drama for its unflinchingly honest portrayal of sexual assault and Michaela's incredible, lead performance.
The series won Best Mini-Series at the BAFTAs and Michaela won Best Actress at the ceremony. She also won Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie at the Emmys in 2021.
2) Top Boy - Netflix
Top Boy first aired on Channel 4 in 2011 and lasted for two seasons. It was then rebooted by Netflix in 2019 with Drake as an executive producer. The crime drama is set in the fictional Summerhouse estate in Hackney and is about rival drug dealers in the area. The show has been praised for its tight plot, great soundtrack and fully-realised characters.
The series stars the likes of Ashley Walters, Kane Robinson and Little Simz.
3) Rocks - Netflix
Few coming of age dramas are as touching as Rocks on Netflix. The film tells the story of a teenage girl, nicknamed Rocks, who struggles to take care of herself and her younger brother after their single mother abandons them. As moving as the film is though, Rocks is also a funny, genuine and heartfelt depiction of female adolescence in the UK.
The movie is tied together by Bukky Bakray's phenomenal performance as Rocks. Bukky was so good that she won the BAFTA Rising Star award for the role.
4) Small Axe - BBC iPlayer
Directed by screen legend Steve McQueen, Small Axe is an anthology series of five films, which tell five very unique stories about West Indian immigrants in the UK. From Mangrove, which is about the historic trial of the Mangrove Nine in 1971 to Red, White and Blue, which is about Black Police Association founder, Leroy Logan, each movie is worth watching.
Malachi Kirby won Best Supporting Actor at the BAFTAs for his role as Darcus Howe in Mangrove and John Boyega won Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes for his role as Leroy Logan in Red, White and Blue.
5) Highlife - All 4
Highlife is a new docu-ality series launched this year and it follows the real lives of young, successful British West Africans in the UK. The cast includes the likes of chart-topping songwriter and artist Kamille, author and lifestyle guru Toni Tone and make-up artist and content creator Bernicia Boateng.
Praised for its heart and humour, the series is British reality TV at its best.
6) Belle - Disney+
Directed by British filmmaker Amma Assante, Belle is a period drama based on the real story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of Sir John Lindsay. Little is known about Dido in real life, other than that she appears in a 1779 painting, next to her white cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray. Belle imagines what her life might have been like.
The film received positive reviews from critics and Gugu Mbatha-Raw won multiple Best Actress awards for her performance as Belle.
7) Undercover - BritBox
Undercover is a gripping six-part crime drama. It tells the story of a British lawyer named Maya Cobbina, and her family, as she tries to prove the innocence of a man on US death row. However, Maya's life is thrown into chaos after she is head-hunted to be Director of Prosecutions, and secrets from her husband's past come to light.
Featuring impeccable performances by Sophie Okonedo and Adrian Lester, British drama doesn't get any better than this.
8) Big Age - All 4
Written by bestselling British author, Bolu Babalola, Big Age is a comedy, set in London, about four Black British friends, trying to navigate life in their 20s. Much like Bolu herself, it's witty, endearing and romance-orientated. The first episode revolves around British Nigerian Ṣadé, who wants to leave her corporate job to pursue her dreams of writing.
As it stands only the pilot episode of Big Age has aired as part of Channel 4's Black to Front day in September. If there's any justice, a full series will be ordered.
9) Luther - BBC iPlayer
Chances are you already know Luther but if you haven't watched it yet, it's one of the best crime dramas that the UK has to offer. Led by Idris Elba as Detective Chief Inspector, John Luther, the series explore's Luther's work as he becomes overly obsessed with his cases and struggles to balance his private life with his work life.
All five seasons are available to stream right now.
10) Chewing Gum - All 4
If you've watched I May Destroy You but haven't seen any of Michaela Coel's other work, you need to check out her debut series Chewing Gum. The comedy is about a 24-year-old virgin who wants to have sex for the first time and learn more about the world around her.
Incredibly awkward and incredibly hilarious, there's no series quite like Chewing Gum.