BBC developing Biafra War drama with newly-launched Argo Films

L-R: David Oyelowo, Richard Johns, Yvonne Isimeme Ibazebo, Bola Agbaje & Ngozi Onwurah

UK pubcaster the BBC is in development with Biafra, a limited event series, which will be the first major TV drama to emerge from Richard Johns’ recently launched Argo Films.

Fremantle is attached as a strategic partner on the six-hour series, while actor David Oyelowo (Selma, Les Misérables, Spooks) and his Yoruba Saxon Productions are executive producing.

Set in the UK and Nigeria, the series unfolds across two main timelines: the present day, and the 1967-1970 Biafra War. The story is told through the eyes of a young Black British woman and will be a character-led personal story, as well as a historical, political drama.

Bola Agbaje (Gone Too Far) is writing the script, and Ngozi Onwurah (Shoot the Messenger, Mama Africa) is co- developing and attached to direct. Additional executive producers, alongside Johns and Oyelowo, include Turnover Films’ Yvonne Isimeme Ibazebo (Rye Lane, Top Boy, Guerrilla) and Fremantle’s Christian Vesper (Top of the Lake, No Man’s Land).

The Liability and Shadow Of A Vampire producer Johns launched Argo Films a little over a week ago, announcing multiple projects in the works including a series for Disney+ starring John Travolta.

Discussing Biafra, Johns said: “Britain and Nigeria have a hugely important, multi-layered, and historic relationship, one that is very much alive today. With this series, we are setting ourselves the mission of telling an incredibly powerful story about discovering and reclaiming a lost identity and a forgotten history – all with a truly authentic West African voice. We are so lucky to be working with Bola, Ngozi, Yvonne and David to bring this story to the screen.”

Oyelowo added: “My Nigerian heritage and desire to see African stories told at the highest level has led to Biafra being one of my most treasured projects. My parents married across the tabooed tribal lines of the Biafran conflict, and it shaped my life, much as it has done to millions of Nigerians.

“To be able to bring the amazing talents of director Ngozi Onwurah, who I first worked with on Shoot the Messenger, and writer, Bola Agbaje, who I’ve been seeking to work with for quite some time, makes this the definition of a passion project for me.”

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