Small Island (BBC-1 2009 with Naomie Harris and Benedict Cumberbatch)

UK / BBC One – A L Films – Northern Ireland Screen – WGBH Boston / 2×90 minute episodes / Broadcast 6-13 December 2009

Writers: Paula Milne, Sarah Williams / Book: Andrea Levy / Script Supervisor: Lynda Marshall / Script Editor: Mona Qureshi / Music: Martin Phipps / Cinematography: Tony Miller / Titles: Peter Anderson / Production Design: Will Hughes-Jones / Executive Producers: Alison Owen, Paula Milne, Paul Trijbits, Rebecca Eaton, Lucy Richer / Producers: Joanna Anderson, Vicky Licorish, Grainne Marmion / Director: John Alexander

Fabulous two part period drama Small Island takes us from Jamaica to post world war two London with a story of two very different women whose lives cross paths and change things for both of them forever.

In 1947 Hortense Joseph follows her marriage of convenience husband Gilbert to rainy London from Jaimica believing that he is making enough money to support them and build a new life for them; Gilbert though is lodging with Queenie Bligh who is married to the staid Bernard (the war has taken a heavy toll on him it seems and he spends long periods away from home).

Based on the book by Andrea Levy Small Island is excellent. Another high quality performance from the dazzling Ruth Wilson as Queenie who seeks solace in the arms of the Jamaican Michael despite knowing there can be no future for them. Naomie Harris also sparkles proving she is one of the best young actresses around. Benedict Cumberbatch is all uptight, straight jacketed Englishman whilst Ashley Walters as Michael shows Queenie real love for the first time in her life.

The drama also tackles some serious real life issues too as many Jamaican immigrants suffered racism despite being needed to help rebuild post war Britain.

Naomie Harris as Hortense
Ruth Wilson as Queenie
David Oyelowo as Gilbert
Hugh Quarshie as Narrator
Ashley Walters as Michael
Roger Sloman as Mr Todd
Shaun Parkes as Winston
Benedict Cumberbatch as Bernard