Guerrilla is a six-part British drama miniseries set in early 1970s London, against the backdrop of the Immigration Act 1971 and British black power movements such as the British Black Panthers and Race Today Collective. It was written and directed by John Ridley and stars Idris Elba, Freida Pinto and Babou Ceesay in leading roles. Guerrilla debuted on Sky Atlantic on 13 April 2017 and on Showtime on 16 April 2017.
Showtime poster for Guerrilla
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||6|
|Producer(s)||Yvonne Isimeme Ibazebo|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Picture format||HDTV 1080i|
|Original release||13 April –|
18 May 2017
A love story set against the backdrop of one of the most politically explosive times in UK history. A politically active couple (played by Freida Pinto and Babou Ceesay) have their relationship and values tested, when they liberate a political prisoner and form a radical underground cell in 1970s London.
- Idris Elba as Kentoro "Kent" Abbasi
- Freida Pinto as Jas Mitra
- Babou Ceesay as Marcus Hill
- Rory Kinnear as Pence
- Patrick Gibson as Connor
- Zawe Ashton as Omega
- Daniel Mays as Cullen
- Bella Dayne as Eliette
- Wunmi Mosaku as Kenya
- Nathaniel Martello-White as Dhari Bishop
- Denise Gough as Fallon
- Brandon Scott as Leroy
- Nicholas Pinnock as Julian
The show was inspired by the political activism of British Black Panther (BBP) members Farrukh Dhondy and Darcus Howe, members of the Race Today Collective. Howe and Dhondy were consultants for the show, while Dhondy was also asked to be a script editor. Ridley also consulted other BBP members, including Neil Kenlock and Leila Hassan. The character Jas Mitra, played by Freida Pinto, was inspired by BBP member Mala Sen, another member of the Race Today Collective.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||US viewers|
|1||"Episode 1"||John Ridley||John Ridley||April 16, 2017||0.182|
|2||"Episode 2"||John Ridley||John Ridley||April 23, 2017||0.131|
|3||"Episode 3"||Sam Miller||John Ridley||April 30, 2017||0.109|
|4||"Episode 4"||Sam Miller||John Ridley||May 7, 2017||0.085|
|5||"Episode 5"||Sam Miller||Misan Sagay||May 14, 2017||0.061|
|6||"Episode 6"||John Ridley||John Ridley||May 14, 2017||0.043|
The mini-series has been criticised for excluding the historical role played by black women who were part of the British Black Panthers (BBP) organization. There has been debate about erasure of black women, since none of the lead characters are black women and the female lead is played by an Indian woman. The most prominent black woman in the first episode is working to support racism.
Several former BBP members have responded to the controversy including, Neil Kenlock, Farrukh Dhondy, and Elizabeth Obi. All three have defended Pinto's casting and the role of Asians in the movement as historically appropriate, However, Obi also criticised the absence of black women in leading roles, as well as the representation of black women in the first episode.
Writing for The Guardian, Obi said: "I was there, and I find the portrayal of black women unforgivable". Obi was supportive Pinto casting as Jas Mitra stating that her character "is quite obviously in recognition of Mala Sen, who was part of the leadership of the Black Panther movement....For me it was an absolute pleasure to have Mala's contribution acknowledged through the role of Jas." Obi goes on to say that "the portrayal of black women in the first episode was unforgivable, as they are represented solely by Wunmi Mosaku’s character Kenya, a sex worker whose clients include the police inspector Pence." Later Obi states: "It is impossible to watch Guerrilla without noticing the gaping hole it leaves in the story of the struggle for racial justice. Black women – including Althea Jones-Lecointe, Olive Morris and Gail Lewis – weren’t just part of the history of the black power movement, they led it in Britain."
On the other hand, while at a screening Kenlock stated: "I'm the only person here who was part of the movement and John has got it spot on. Mala Sen, an Asian woman, was extremely active." Dhondy noted that the BBP began in the late 1960s by a collective of black and Asian activists working together under the banner of "blackness", with "Black" as a political label for all people of colour. He wrote that, along with black women such as Altheia Jones, Asian men and women, such as himself and Sen, were also prominent in the movement. He also noted that, along with the lack of a black female lead, the series also lacks an Asian male lead, despite Asian men such as himself, Sunit Chopra and Vivan Sundaram being prominent BBP members. According to Dhondy, at least 20 Asian women held leadership positions in the British black power movement, including founders of the Southall Black Sisters and the Organisation for Women of Asian and African Descent.
- Vivarelli, Nick. "Showtime-Sky Miniseries 'Guerrilla' Adds Cast Ahead of London Shoot Start". Variety. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
- "The Real Guerrillas". jacobinmag.com. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- Dhondy, Farrukh (12 April 2017). "Guerrilla: A British Black Panther's View By Farrukh Dhondy (One Of The Original British Black Panthers)". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-04-12.
- Hughes, Sarah (9 April 2017). "The story of the British Black Panthers through race, politics, love and power". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- Obi, Elizabeth; Okolosie, Lola; Andrews, Kehinde; Amrani, Iman (14 April 2017). "What does Guerrilla teach us about the fight for racial equality today?". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- "Emotional John Ridley responds to race questions at Sky's 'Guerrilla' premiere". screendaily.com. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- Barraclough, Leo. "Freida Pinto Joins Idris Elba in Showtime-Sky Miniseries 'Guerrilla'". Variety. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
- Pedersen, Erik. "'Guerrilla': John Ridley's Showtime-Sky Miniseries Sets Male Lead, Rounds Out Cast". Deadline. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
a politically active couple who set out to change the world in 1970s London
- "The explosive true story of the British Black Panthers who inspired Idris Elba's new TV drama". telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- "Meet one of the British Black Panthers who inspired Guerrilla". radiotimes.com. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- "British Civil Rights Activist Darcus Howe Will Appear in Showtime/Sky Drama 'Guerrilla'". hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- "Freida Pinto in tears as 'blackness' row hits Idris Elba's Guerrilla". inews.co.uk. 7 April 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- Ausiello, Michael. "Idris Elba to Headline 6-Episode Showtime Drama Series Guerrilla, From American Crime EP John Ridley". TVLine. Retrieved 2017-01-11.
- "Guerrilla: Season One Ratings". TV Series Finale. 2017-05-16. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
- "Trailer Premiere + Date Set for John Ridley/Idris Elba Limited Scripted Series, 'Guerrilla' (On Black Radicals in 1970s London)". Shadow and Act. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
- Genzlinger, Neil (13 April 2017). "Review: In Showtime's 'Guerrilla,' Radicalism Without the Mythology". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- "Guerrilla: Miniseries - Rotten Tomatoes". rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
- "Guerrilla". metacritic.com. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- "Guerrilla's Critics Say John Ridley's New Show Erases Black Women Activists". Vulture. 11 April 2017. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
- Cawthorne, Ellie, "'Guerrilla' and the real history of British Black Power", BBC History, 13 April 2017.