Working Title TV in the UK has acquired exclusive rights to the first television project by Nigerian-born Inua Ellams, writer of the acclaimed Barbershop Chronicles, performed at London’s The National Theatre.
The prodco, a joint venture between Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of UK-based Working Title Films and NBCUniversal International Studios, is working with Ellams on a four-part miniseries, titled Black T-Shirt Collection.
Set in Nigeria, Egypt, England and China, it follows two Nigerian foster brothers whose handmade t-shirts become a global streetwear brand.
Their success happens against a backdrop of tragedy as their personal lives and growing business empire cross the lines of globalised capitalism, sectarianism and homophobia, according to the producers.
Surian Fletcher-Jones, head of development at Working Title TV, said: “Inua is a searingly original writer whose work has been a huge draw for theatre audiences. We are thrilled that he has entrusted us with his first television project.”
Ellams added: “Black T-Shirt Collection was a joyful, painful and intensely personal story to write. I loved performing it as a play across the world. Adapting it for television is an opportunity to introduce a bigger audience to the fragile, beautiful brothers, their impossibly complex relationship and the worlds they precariously negotiate. I am excited and looking forward to developing this with Working Title.”
Ellams is a poet, playwright and performer. His first play, The 14th Tale, was awarded a Fringe First at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival.
This was followed by Barber Shop Chronicles, which completed two sold-out runs at London’s National Theatre and is now touring the UK and the US. His play Half God of Rainfall opened at Kiln Theatre in London in May. He is also currently writing a new adaptation of Three Sisters for The National Theatre.