BBC’s New Drama Series ‘Champion’ Is A Love Letter To Black British Music


Photography by Seye Isikalu
Illustrations by Alexis Tsegba
© BBC 2023

Anticipation has been building, and the time has finally come for us to dive into Candice Carty-Williams’ personal love letter to Black British music. The author, revered for her bestselling novels Queenie and People Person, has a new TV series out—her first ever, in fact—called Champion.

Champion tells the story of Bosco, a young rapper whose blossoming career was put on hold when he was sent to prison. The story picks up with Bosco’s release, as he works to get his career back on track while his younger sister, Vita, is starting to build her own reputation as a musician.

Vita’s talent is soon scouted by Bosco’s Birmingham rival and as she becomes a performer in her own right, this sets the two siblings against one another, tearing their family apart in the process.

The series explores challenging topics like sexism, racism and mental health, while capturing the complexity of family, friendship and cultural tradition, with a lead cast perfectly matched for their roles.

Malcolm Kamulete plays Bosco with clear passion and hunger, his first lead role as an adult after his groundbreaking performance as Top Boy’s Ra’Nell Smith. Déja J. Bowens, who plays Vita, shines in her debut on-screen role straight from college while veteran actors Nadine Marshall, Ray Fearon, Jo Martin and Karl Collins deliver their performances with depth, humour, and emotion.

Speaking on the show’s inception, Candice Carty-Williams reveals: “Three years after I dreamt up Bosco and Vita Champion, this brother and sister duo, their family, their friends and their enemies are about to hit screens across the globe, with a backdrop of all-original music. Seeing the cast bring these songs and characters to life and make them their own has been thrilling, emotional, and satisfying. I can’t wait for viewers to meet the Champions and fall in love with them like I have.”

Candice and the incredible team have gone above and beyond to bring the music element of the show to life. A proud South Londoner, the author and showrunner has gathered some of the best of Black British music talent to make the show as authentic as possible.

Renowned singer-songwriter and winner of BBC’s Sound of 2017 prize, Ray BLK, joins the production as Music Executive. In addition to her TV debut as Vita's loyal friend Honey, Ray BLK has been actively involved in crafting original hits for the Champion's soundtrack, showcasing her soulful vocals and songwriting prowess.

Grime pioneer and Mercury Prize-nominated rhymesmith Ghetts, who is also a key Music Executive for the show, pens exclusive lyrics and songs for Bosco's compelling narrative. But that’s not all. The exceptional, original soundtrack also boasts contributions from Birmingham rapper M1llionz, veteran singer-songwriter Shola Ama, and the talented producer Ceebeaats, among others.

Champion is a true celebration of the raw power and unapologetic energy of UK rap, R&B, and grime.

Watch Champion now on BBC iPlayer.

Posted on July 04, 2023