BBC TV Adapts Andrea Levy’s Small Island


The British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) adaptation of Andrea Levy’s award-winning Small Island had its first screening before an exclusive audience in London recently. The adaptation, which will be broadcast as a two-part mini-series on BBC television this autumn, tells the stories of Jamaicans who traveled to England during and after World War II. The cast consists of British actors, many of whom are from West Indian families that migrated to the UK during the same period in which the story is set, and who had similar experiences to those of the characters.

The novel’s author, Andrea Levy, was born in London to Jamaican parents, who were among the wave of Jamaicans who migrated to Britain to help the rebuilding process after the war. Small Island, Levy’s fourth novel, is inspired by the stories of Jamaicans who made the journey during those years and the challenges they faced. The novel, first published in 2004, was an enormous critical success, winning the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel as well as the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

Small Island will be shown on BBC One in October. It will also be shown in the United States in April 2010. See our post about the PBS presentation at PBS to broadcast Small Island in April

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21 thoughts on “BBC TV Adapts Andrea Levy’s Small Island

  1. Been looking foreard to this for months, but it’s the last day of October 2009 and no sighn of the adaptation of Small Island! When will it actually be shown??!!

    1. My thoughts exactly..BBC WHEN??? Can you Imagine Black History Month came and passed no shows on black history or anything…they could have at least shpwed this to do something…still waiting …hmm..The only thing I was seeing is Nick Bloody Griffin showing his ignorance on my screen

  2. me too it was hyped in the Times recently but still nothing in scheduling. Really frustrated as really looking forward to it.

  3. Thank goodness for these 3 posting…… I know it wasn’t a dream and I really did read that the BBC would be screening the adaptation of this novel in October. It was the subject of a discussion on Radio 4 (could have been Front-Row) in August – a couple of reviewers who had seen a preview were not too impressed with the first episode but loved the second and were also looking forward to BBC viewers reaction to the drama. So it has definitely been filmed. I have searched the BBC website every week to no avail. Surely they could post an explanation about the delay on the site. There must be more than four people keen to see it. It is all very mysterious. I wonder if a BBC employee left the DVD in a cab?

  4. The bbc is shunning my community, this is a valid interpretation of our cultral history and it has been pushed back more times than i would care to remember….. it’s just poor!!

  5. My friend told me about this at least six months ago and we have been waiting. Terrible action by the BBC for keeping us waiting.

  6. What has happened to Small Island? The BBC said it’d be on in Autumn but we’re into winter now and still no sign of it! I am so looking forward to it after reading such a fabulous book, my favourite ever!

  7. Where is small island? I’ve been looking forward to watching it for months because the book is great! What is the BBC playing at? There would be an explanation for the delay of showing any other program. How frustrating!

  8. Thanks for that Nicola. I have been looking forward to seeing since September when there was a write up about it in Pride magazine. Can’t wait to see it.

  9. Can anyone tell me me if Small Island has been screened before – I am sure I have seen it before please help me anyone, as I think I am going mad – maybe TV showed lots of excerpts before?? Was there ever a film before this adaptation.


  10. there has been such a buzz about BBC´s airing of Small Island. Can´t believe I missed it. Is there to be a repeat broadcast or where can it be downloaded


  11. Please can someone advise me on where I can obtain a copy of the ‘Small Island’ TV drama on DVD or download? I would love to get this for my parents.

  12. I LOVED BBCc Small Island – Does anyone know if it will be available on dvd ? how can i find out – Also will it come back on tv again.

  13. I contacted BBC shop – this is what they said – so all email the below!!:
    Dear Charlotte

    Thank you for your email.

    Unfortunately ‘Small Island’ is not currently available on DVD through BBC Shop and we are unaware of any plans to release this title in the near future.

    BBC Shop is not responsible for any decisions regarding commissioning of new formats. Any queries relating to the above should be directed to 2 Entertain using the following details:

    Telephone – 0207 612 3120 (this is a message service where you can leave a name, number and the title you are enquiring about, and they will aim to respond within three days).

    Email –

    BBC Shop is committed to giving customers access to the complete range of products published by BBC Worldwide and in order to view the complete range please go to

    If you have any further problems or queries please do not hesitate to contact us for further assistance.

    Kind regards,

    Olivia Stapleton
    Customer Services

  14. I completly and Utterly Enjoed the Two series, my thought about it was well done to the actor and i am looking foward to reading the book hopefully.
    And i would Also like BBC to release the DVD,because many more should be able to watch and iplayer is not reliable as it is there for a few day
    i say Get the DVD OUT it was the best They have ever done a Job well done 😀


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