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John Goodman, Michaela Coel to Star in BBC, Netflix War Crimes Drama ‘Black Earth Rising’

BBC also unveils projects from Riz Ahmed, David Harewood

John Goodman and Michaela Coel are set to star in “Black Earth Rising,” the BBC and Netflix drama about international war crimes and the West’s relationship with Africa.

They join a cast including Noma Dumezweni (“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”), Harriet Walter (“The Crown”), and Tamara Tunie (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”) in the series, which will be on BBC Two in the U.K. and Netflix internationally.

The story centers on Kate Ashby (played by BAFTA -winner Coel, pictured), who was rescued as a young child during the Rwandan genocide and adopted by Eve Ashby (Walter), a British prosecutor. Kate was raised in Britain and, now in her late 20s, works as a legal investigator in the law chambers of Michael Ennis (played by “Roseanne” star Goodman).

When Eve takes on a genocide case at the International Criminal Court, prosecuting an African militia leader, it pulls Ennis and Ashby into a journey that will change their lives.

Details of “Black Earth Rising” were unveiled at a BBC Two launch event in London on Monday night. Other new dramas for the channel include an adaptation of Eugene McCabe’s modern Irish classic “Death and Nightingales,” which has been adapted and directed by Allan Cubitt (“The Fall”).

There is also BBC Studios-produced “Englistan,” created by “The Night Of” star Riz Ahmed. It follows three generations of a British Pakistani family as they pursue their dreams over four tumultuous decades. “’Englistan’ is an untold British story with universal themes and resonance. It’s the story I always wanted to tell,” Ahmed said.

Acquisitions include Donald Glover’s FX series “Atlanta,” which will get its free-to-air U.K. debut on BBC Two.

In factual, the lineup includes “David Harewood: Psychosis & Me,” in which the “Homeland” star tries to piece together what happened in his early 20s when he suffered a mental breakdown, and why it happened. As well as examining his own story in the Films of Record-produced show, Harewood meets young people with mental health issues and the professionals treating them.

Another BBC-Netflix show was announced, interior design competition series “Project Interiors.” The eight-part series is being made with Endemol Shine-owned producer Darlow Smithson.

“BBC Two at its best has a sense of mischief….It’s always stimulating but it’s fun and playful too….It’s this light and shade that makes BBC Two at its best feel so vital,” channel controller Patrick Holland said at the launch event. “Blending strong opinions and bold perspectives with brilliant comic voices and finger-on-the-pulse entertainment. Never afraid of provoking, knowing we may upset people along the way.”

BBC leaders have been vocal about the threat to British programming posed by the U.S. streaming and tech giants. “The titles I have talked about today could never have been commissioned alone by a Silicon Valley algorithm,” Holland said. “You can’t write code that replaces human insight.”

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