Chewing Gum star Michaela Coel to write drama on sexual consent

Michaela Coel, who created the E4 sitcom Chewing Gum, is to write and star in a drama for the BBC exploring the issue of sexual consent.

The “fearless, frank and provocative” series, which has a working title of Jan 22nd, will look into “the distinction between liberation and exploitation”, the broadcaster said.

Coel, 30, will play Arabella, whose experience of consent is at the heart of the story. The character meets friends and colleagues whose sexual adventures collide with new codes of sexual conduct.

“I feel weirdly overwhelmed and honoured to be making something again, something I’m making myself, with a great team,” Coel said.

Coel is also starring in Hugo Blick’s Black Earth Rising, a co-production between Netflix and the BBC, coming to BBC Two in September.


Phil Clarke, executive producer, said: “It’s incredibly exciting to be working with Michaela again. She has a brave and original vision, something mature and relevant to say – about gender politics, about consent, about gratification, about social media, about her generation. It’s an explosive package.”

Chewing Gum, which ran for two series from 2015-17, was inspired by Coel’s play Chewing Gum Dreams. It earned her two Royal Television Society awards, for best comedy performance and breakthrough performance; a Bafta Television Craft award for breakthrough talent; the best female performance in a comedy programme award at the Television Baftas; and a Broadcast Digital award for best scripted programme. She gained further recognition after appearing in an episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror in 2017.

Coel’s new drama is one of three commissions written by women that the BBC is announcing at the Edinburgh TV festival, where she will deliver the James MacTaggart memorial lecture.

Nicole Taylor, writer of Three Girls, is to write a six-part thriller called The Nest, exploring the consequences of a pact between a wealthy couple and a teenage girl that changes their lives.

The BBC has also commissioned for BBC Three an adaptation of Sally Rooney’s forthcoming novel Normal People, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, who directed Room, based on the novel by Emma Donoghue.

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