Peacock Acquires Noughts + Crosses, Imagining Racially Reversed Alt-History

Peacock has acquired the BBC’s YA drama series Noughts + Crosses, which imagines an alternate world in which Africa colonized Europe — but this new version of history still feels awfully familiar.

Based on the first novel in Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses series, the six-episode project takes place in a timeline where Africa — or “Aprica” — invaded Europe centuries ago and enslaved its people, instead of the other way around.

In present-day London — called “Albion” in this world — slavery is an institution of the past, “but Jim Crow-esque segregation laws maintain the power dynamic,” the description teases. On one side, a ruling class of Black “Crosses” controls the country’s politics, wealth and culture; on the other, an oppressed, impoverished underclass of white “Noughts” is at the brink of revolt.

Amid the racial tensions and police violence teased in the above trailer, a forbidden love story between Callum McGregor, a Nought, and Sephy Hadley, a Cross (and the daughter of a prominent politician), unfolds. “Destiny crosses their divergent paths,” the logline reads, “and they’re swept away in a romance that seems doomed from the start.”

Jack Rowan (Peaky Blinders) and Masali Baduza (South Africa’s Trackers) star as Callum and Sephy, while the rest of the cast includes Helen Baxendale (BBC’s Cuckoo), Paterson Joseph (Timeless), Josh Dylan (The End of the F***ing World Season 2), Shaun Dingwall (DCI Banks), Rakie Ayola (ITV’s Shetland), Bonnie Mbuli (Vagrant Queen), Ian Hart (The Last Kingdom), Kike Brimah and Jonathan Ajayi.

Noughts + Crosses will begin streaming on Peacock on Friday, Sept. 4. Watch a full trailer for the show above, then drop a comment with your initial thoughts.