Black Earth Rising | TV Q+A

Writer, director + producter Hugo Blick is joined by leading actresses Harriet Walter + Michaela Coel to discuss their upcoming eight-part television drama series Black Earth Rising. Listen to the end to hear Michaela Coel's advice to new starters in television! Find a few standout moments below.

1. The mechanics of drama + a gripping story

Black Earth Rising plays out across the UK, Europe, Africa + the USA, exploring the prosecution of international war crimes + the West’s relationship with contemporary Africa. Coel's character, Kate, was saved from the Rwandan genocide + adopted by world-class criminal law prosecutor Eve (Walter); the interplay between the horror she escaped + the life she stepped into creates plenty of tension for the show to explore.

Eve Ashby's intent was to armour her adopted daughter with both privilege + education [...] because she'd been so touched by evil. In terms of drama, the first thing you're gonna do is take that privilege away [+] strip her back.

2. Acting as a job vs. acting as an art

This feels very much about the craft of acting.

Coel, who studied at the Guildhall School of Music + Drama, is intimately familiar with the hard work that goes into television production. Having written Chewing Gum by herself under pressing deadlines (earning two Scripted Comedy nominations for her trouble), she now has the opportunity to focus solely on delivering a performance in a completely different type of programme. 

3. Pushing it...too far?

According to Blick, those with delicate stomachs should beware: vomiting is a big part of the imagery in Black Earth Rising. Although the cast went about this undertaking in their own unique ways, it seems that John Goodman really put in the extra effort to make his scene that much more believable.

John [Goodman] can take that little drink of vomithe can do the vomit but he can hold a bit back + that's really impressive. You get a double flop afterwards into the loo. Now that's talent.