“I haven’t seen this many black people on TV since The Real McCoy” via Twitter
And so it began. The first five minutes of The Future Wags of Great Britain, a one off drama which debuted on Channel 4 last week. The show sent Twitterville into a mild frenzy. The Real McCoy Tweet shown above hit the nail right on the head, causing copious amounts of people to re-tweet and partake in general discussion about the lack of black images shown on British terrestrial television.
In case you missed it, The Future Wags of Great Britain is a 30 minute drama about two sisters who are going through a bit of a metamorphosis in life. Kim (Naana Agyei) is a studious and ambitious young woman who becomes seduced by champagne life of the football world, which she is introduced to by her bubbly, party-going sister Missy (Bunmi Mujekwu) played by Mercy from Eastenders. Disguised as a footballer’s wife, Kim starts partying with players until she realises that she has lost sight of her dream and thus decides to head for America to emulate her idols such as Michelle Obama and Oprah.
The show was truly refreshing. I particularly liked the sharp dialogue ( “A pastor that drives a Lexus is not a man to be trusted”) and adored the little black girl nuances such as the patting of the weave. According to Destiny Films who directed the short, the show was watched by over half a million viewers, so well done to those who tuned in. Let’s hope channel 4 sit up and take note and realise there is an audience out there virtually starving for these stories. Tales that reflect our experiences in all its variations, and is written and presented in an indigenous way. Note to channel 4 and all of the other terrestrial channels: more of the same please.
We caught up with the writer of The Future Wags of Britain, Abby Ajayi, to hear what she had to say.
What inspired you to write The Future Wags of Great Britain, are the characters based on anyone you know?
I am always interested in stories that have strong female characters or which can look at familiar territory in a new way. While out at the theatre one night I saw a bunch of young teen girls all dressed to the nines in what can only be described as very WAG style and the title – The Future WAGs of Great Britain- came to me then. However we have lots of stories about WAGs in the media so I dug a bit deeper to find something new and fresh to say about WAG culture, which then brought me to the question of why are there no black WAGs. With the title and this question I then had a way in to telling a story that interested me about some of the inequalities that black women in the UK face today but within a comedic story. In developing the two sisters I set out to create multi faceted female characters who happen to be black but who had clear goals and aspirations and who felt real. The characters aren’t directly based on particular people but I used aspects of myself and of friends and some of the debates and arguments we have about our experiences.
How long did it take for the whole thing to come together – from
completion of script to completion of filming?
Because the script was selected for the Coming Up scheme the whole process was very swift by TV standards. Several drafts of the script were completed from October 2009 to January 2010 and the film was shot over 4 days in January 2010.
How did you get involved in the Coming Up Scheme? And once you script was given the green-light, how much artistic control did you have?
The coming up scheme has been running for about 10 years now. It is, I think, the only UK scheme that has a guaranteed broadcast at the end of it. The scheme is usually announced in TV industry magazines and on channel 4’s website. I had to submit a 2-page outline of my idea and a writing sample. I’d applied every year for 4 or 5 years but not been selected but happily, this year I guess my idea stood out.The first draft of the script was my work, my ideas, my vision but in bringing it to the screen it became a collaborative process as is the the case in film and tv script development. After each draft I got notes from the director, the producer and my script editor. These notes helped identify what wasn’t working or potential weaknesses and in the rewrites I tried to find creative ways to address the notes. Whilst getting notes can be tough – I found that everyone I worked with on this project was supportive and the notes very helpful and constructive and ultimately helped me to turn out a better final script that still said what I wanted it to.
What’s next for you and how can people find out more about your work?
I’ve just completed work on a Christmas movie for TV and I’m currently developing several film and TV projects. My feature film script VIV is in development and Destiny Ekaragha the brilliant director of Future WAGs and I are working to develop future adventures for Missy and Kim and a feature film project.
My website is under construction but more details about my work will be available at www.abbyajayi.co.uk Or you can follow me on Twitter at hsfashionista
In case you missed The Future Wags of Great Britain last week, you can watch it here