Award-winning writer Steven Knight is to create a new BBC drama series set in the era of Ska and 2-Tone music: a period which saw acts such as The Specials, Madness, The Beat and The Selecter become mainstream stars.
Two Tone will tell the story of an extended family and four young people drawn into the scene which grew out of Coventry and Birmingham in the late 70s and early 80s.
Unifying black, white and Asian youths at that time, Knight said the series’ soundtrack would be “sensational”. It will start filming later this year at Knight’s new Birmingham studios.
The sixth and final series of Knight’s hugely successful BBC drama Peaky Blinders, also based in the city, concluded earlier this month.
This new six-part series on BBC One will be set in the West Midlands at a time of “real cultural and historical progression”, Karen Wilson, from producers Kudos said.
The 2-Tone music scene – which fused traditional Jamaican ska music with punk – produced bands including The Specials, The Selecter, The Beat and Madness, who went on to cement their place in popular culture.
“This is a project that’s literally very close to home and I’m developing characters and themes that are set in the early 80s but hopefully are very contemporary,” the Academy Award-nominee and Bafta-winning writer said.
Ben Irving, acting director of BBC Drama said: “Steven has taken his knowledge of this time and place and used it to weave a brilliantly original and characterful drama, set against the musical backdrop of ska and 2 Tone. We are thrilled to be able to bring this unique piece to viewers on the BBC.”
Having returned with their UK-chart topping comeback album Encore in 2019, The Specials have since followed up with 2021’s Protest Songs 1924-2012: a record that takes a stand against all forms of injustice in modern society.