Small Axe (2020)

Actor Sheyi Cole as Alex Wheatle in a prison scene wearing blue overalls carrying a pile of clothing. Behind him is the prison metal stair case and walkways.

Small Axe (2020) Alex Wheatle – Sheyi Cole as Alex Wheatle in a scene filmed at Canterbury Prison doubling as a London prison © Steve McQueen

Starring:  Sheyi Cole, Robbie Gee

Production Company: Amazon Studios for BBC

Kent Locations Used:  Canterbury Prison

Oscar-winning writer and director Steve McQueen (Widows (2018), 12 Years a Slave (2013)) brings a new series Small Axe to BBC One with six one hour-long anthologies about London’s West Indian community spanning three decades.

The name of the series is derived from the Jamacian proverb ‘if you are the big tree, we are the small axe’ (Bob Marley) and focuses on the lives of a group of friends and their families living in West London from 1968 to 2014 and has a stellar cast featuring Letitia Wright (Black Panther (2018), Avengers: Infinity War (2018)), John Boyega (Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)), Rochenda Sandall ((Line of Duty (2012), Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)), Malachi Kirby (Curfew (2019), Devils (2019)) and Joshua Viner (The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)).

Small Axe: Alex Wheatle, partly filmed in Kent, stars Sheyi Cole (Made in Hollywood) as award-winning writer Alex Wheatle and tells his story from a young boy, in a mostly white institutional care home with no love or family, to his home in Brixton where he finds a sense of community and discovers his identity. Small Axe: Alex Wheatle follows Alex’s story leading up to the Brixton Uprising in 1981, his imprisonment and journey to recovery. The prison scenes portray the growing relationship between Alex and his cellmate Simeon (Robbie Gee (Motherland) who encourages him to turn his life around through self-education by reading and writing.

Production visited Canterbury Prison to shoot for two days for the episode. Canterbury Prison was sold to Canterbury Christ Church University in 2014 and is now part of the university campus. Most recently BBC TV Drama The Capture (2019) filmed at the Prison. The surrounding area of Canterbury is also popular for filming with previous productions including The Rizen (2017) and The Tunnel: Sabotage (2016).

The six-part series is due to air on 15th November 2020 on BBC One.

Links:

For more information about filming in Kent please contact: filmoffice@kent.gov.uk

For more information on the series please visit: https://www.radiotimes.com/news/2019-09-17/small-axe-bbc1-steve-mcqueen-drama-air-date-cast-trailer/

For more information about the conversion of Canterbury Prison visit: https://canterbury.ac.uk/about-us/estate-master-plan/prison-conversion.aspx

For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map: https://kentfilmoffice.co.uk/kent-movie-map/moviemap-live-2/