Malachi Kirby, Christopher Eccleston and Sir Lenny Henry have been cast in the BBC adaptation of Kit de Waal’s debut novel My Name is Leon.
Monica Dolan, Olivia Williams and Poppy Lee Friar will also star in the 90-minute TV film, which is produced by Sir Lenny’s own Douglas Road Productions and is currently filming in Birmingham.
Child actor Cole Martin will play the lead part of Leon in his first TV role.
Artistic director of The Bush Theatre Lynette Linton will make her directorial debut on a television drama while the screenplay is Shola Amoo’s first for television.
Set in 1980s Birmingham, My Name is Leon will tell the story of nine-year-old Leon, a mixed-race boy who hopes to reunite his family after being taken into care and separated from his blond and blue-eyed baby brother.
Viewers will follow Leon’s relationship with his foster carer Maureen as the production explore issues of identity and belonging.
Black Mirror and Small Axe star Kirby said: “It’s rare, in my experience, for projects such as this to be made and even more rare to be seen, so I’m really excited and grateful to be a part of it.”
Dolan, who recently appeared in A Very English Scandal, said: “Rarely do you get the chance even to read a script of such heart, soul and wisdom as Shola’s.
“It could not have come at a more appropriate time. I am thrilled and privileged to be working with such a great cast and to be part of Lynette Linton’s TV debut.”
Sir Lenny, executive producer for Douglas Road Productions, said: “It is my honour to be part of the squad bringing Kit de Waal’s My Name Is Leon to BBC television.
“I discovered the book whilst performing the audio book and was so moved on the first day’s work that I rang my office at lunch time and said, ‘We’ve got to try and do this’.
“Thankfully, after five years, we’ve pulled it together with a great writer (Shola Amoo), director (Lynette Linton), cast and crew. I can’t wait to see the results.”
My Name is Leon will air on BBC One.