'Explosive' jazz drama for BBC Two

Ken Snakehips Johnson

A fictional 1930s London black jazz band is to be the subject of a new BBC television drama for 2012. Written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff and titled Dancing On The Edge, it is expected to begin filming in October 2011.

The BBC reports that the "explosive" five-part series follows the Louis Lester Band as it finds fame, and trouble, in upper class society:

"Initially shocked by black musicians performing in polite society, many recoil, but London's progressive socialites take the band under their wing.

"When the band's manager Wesley becomes too demanding to the hotel in which the band performs he is deported, forcing the rest to move on without him. The musicians play for the Prince of Wales who elevates their status to the heights of early pop fame.

"But they become entangled in the shadowy world of socialites, which results in the suspected murder of the band's singer Jessie. The walls begin to close in on Louis and the other members until they realise that escape from England may be their only chance for safety."

The series is produced by Nicky Kentish Barnes (You Will Meet A Tall, Dark Stranger, About A Boy) and executive produced by Alison Owen (Case Histories, Toast), and Paul Trijbits (Toast, Five Minutes Of Heaven). It's a Ruby Film and Television production, commissioned by Ben Stephenson, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning and Janice Hadlow, Controller BBC Two.

No details are yet available of historical consultant, music or musicians involved.

Pictured: Interwar British bandleader Ken "Snakehips" Johnson, who died in an explosion at the Café de Paris in 1941

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