Kit de Waal’s novel, My Name is Leon is set in 1980s Britain and as the title suggests, it tells the uplifting and emotive tale of nine-year-old Leon in a story told through his eyes. A mixed-race child, Leon wishes to keep his family together while his mother, a single-parent struggles with a devastating breakdown. Separated from his blonde haired and blue-eyes younger brother, Leon tries to hold onto his hopefulness even through the hardships that are thrown at him. Throughout the novel, we follow Leon’s journey, with his favourite action figure by his side. We see him form the start of a touching relationship with his foster-carer, Maureen, and take an adventure of self-discovery and understanding that family comes in various guises whilst he’s on a quest to be reunited with his siblings.
My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal was first published in 2016 and four years later, the exciting news of its adaptation has been released. BBC One’s Controller of Drama, Piers Wenger and the BBC’s Director of Content, Charlotte Moore have ordered My Name Is Leon for a one-off adaptation.
The novel is adapted by Shola Amoo and it will mark his first screenplay for television. “I’m very excited to be a part of this ground-breaking project for the BBC”, Shola Amoo said in a statement. “It was a real honour and privilege to adapt Kit De Waal’s touching and thought-provoking book for the screen and I can’t wait to share it with the world.”
Douglas Road Productions are producing the adaptation, with Carol Harding set as the producer. Also working on My Name is Leon for the small screen are the executive producers Lenny Henry, Angela Ferreira, Gub Neal, Edward Barlow and Mona Qureshi. Kibwe Tavares is attached to direct.
Kibwe Tavares commented, “While making my first short film about the Brixton riots and police brutality, I found out a lot about myself and started confronting questions around race and identity that I’d maybe shied away from before. Leon was pushed much more violently into this journey at a much younger age… I feel lucky and excited to work with Kit and Shola in telling Leon’s story. It’s an important one.”
Sir Lenny Henry CBE (The Long Song), Executive Producer for Douglas Road Productions, added: “I was halfway through recording the audiobook for My Name Is Leon when I realised I was in love. Kit de Waal’s peerless narrative had me entranced from the beginning and didn’t let me go until the final sentence. Shola’s adaptation does the story great justice.”
There is no news yet on any casting for the production, however, in an interview for Birmingham’s Literature Festival podcast, it was revealed that the adaptation is due to be released on BBC One in 2021. Until then, you still have time to read Kit de Waal’s powerful novel, My Name is Leon.