Disney+ is expanding its UK originals after pairing up with Peaky Blinders‘ creator Steven Knight on a 12-parter set in the perilous world of illegal boxing in 1880s Victorian London.
A Thousand Blows (working title, 12 x 60-minutes) has been created, written and executive produced by Knight, with Stephen Graham (Line Of Duty, Peaky Blinders) starring and also exec producing.
The series is being produced by Endeavor Content-backed The Story Collective in a co-production with Matriarch Productions and Water & Power Productions. It will premiere on Disney+ globally, Star+ in Latin America and Hulu in the US.
Hannah Walters is attached for Matriarch, Damian Keogh and Kate Lewis for The Story Collective, and Tom Miller and Sam Myer for Water & Power. Historian and broadcaster David Olusoga will also act as executive producer on the series.
Knight is lead writer for the series, with episodes also written by Ameir Brown, Insook Chappell, Harlan Davies and Yasmin Joseph. Tinge Krishnan (WeCrashed, Mosquito Coast) will serve as lead director and executive producer.
The story follows Hezekiah and Alec, two best friends from Jamaica who find themselves thrust into the vibrant and violent melting pot of post-industrial revolution London’s East End.
Drawn into the criminal underbelly of the thriving boxing scene, Hezekiah meets Mary Carr, leader of The Forty Elephants – the notorious all-female London gang – as they battle for survival on the streets. As Hezekiah sharpens his new skills, he comes up against Sugar Goodson, a seasoned and dangerous boxer played by Stephen Graham, and the two are soon locked into an intense rivalry that spills out way beyond the ring.
Knight said: “I’m really thrilled to be working on this project with Stephen as well as the very talented production team and group of writers. I always love to delve into untold history, and this is a story that really deserves to be told. We are recreating an amazing world and telling a remarkable true story.”
Graham added: “Aside from having the privilege of bringing the role of Sugar Goodson to life, I am also extremely proud that Matriarch is co-producing this show whilst helping to create opportunities for people in front of and behind the camera, instilling the ethos of providing training within production that otherwise would be difficult for some to pursue as a career.”
Lee Mason, director of scripted content for EMEA at Disney+, added: “A Thousand Blows tells a story that we rarely get to see on screen, and we are delighted to have the inimitable Stephen Graham and visionary Tinge Krishnan help bring this incredible world of richly diverse characters to life.”
The show joins Disney+’s 60 local productions slated to become available by 2024, including a UK series remake of 1990’s film hit, The Full Monty.