Michaela Coel's new show I May Destroy You is set to be must-see viewing. As well as writing, directing and producing the series, Coel stars as protagonist Arabella, a successful writer and survivor of sexual assault. The story centres around the aftermath of Arabella's assault, and the emotional trauma she experiences having been spiked and left unconscious with no memory of the attack. This part of Arabella's story is based on Coel's own experience of sexual assault, something she has previously spoken about openly.
Joining Coel in the cast is Weruche Opia (Bad Education, Inside No9, Sliced) as Arabella's friend Terry. Terry is a struggling actor dealing with the industry's inherent anti-Blackness. Her experiences of racism at a beauty industry casting unfold in episode two. It serves as a timely reflection on some of the issues around anti-Black racism that have been highlighted by the Black Lives Matter protests for George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery across the globe.
Kwame, Arabella and Terry's guy best friend, is played by Paapa Essiedu. Kwame is a former dancer who now teaches gym classes. Previously, Essiedu performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company and starred alongside Coel in Black Earth Rising. He's also known for Press and Gangs Of London.
Arabella's friend Simon played by Aml Ameen (Yardie, Mazerunner) is holding down a highly paid job in the city – we meet Simon as he negotiates the decision to bring a third party into his marriage with wife Kat (Lara Rossi).
I May Destroy You's other stars include Adam James (Belgravia, Doctor Foster) as Julian, Sarah Niles (Catastrophe, Rocks) as officer Funmi, and Ann Akin (Career Of Evil, C.B. Strike) as Alissa.
Co-produced by HBO and BBC Television, the series was a direct result of Coel's desire to write a drama series about consent, inspired by personal experience. Coel has since said that producing the series has been "the most satisfying experience of [her] entire life."
The first episode of I May Destroy You 10.45pm, Monday June 8 on BBC One.