My Name is Leon, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, adapted for television by Shola Amoo, Director Lynette Linton.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m00184br/my-name-is-leon

Anyone that has been paying attention knows a Tory government that continually takes money from the poor and gives it the rich is where we are now. The worst cost-of-living crisis in fifty years. More children taken into care by local authorities grows year on year, while central government takes away funds for caring (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/23/the-guardian-view-on-looked-after-children-time-to-join-the-dots). Just watch the programme and shut up, some folk will be saying. I did and I’m angry because things have got worse since the race riots of the 1980s. We lost the propaganda war and the fictional Leon’s graduate from children’s homes to adult prisons with monotonous regularity.

I read Kit de Waal’s novel (and had a look at my notes afterwards) so I know the plot is where you bury the bones of fiction. Who are you? What are you?

Shola Amoo gets to play god with another writer’s lifeblood. Her story is Kit’s story, which is Leon’s story (actor, Cole Martin). He lives in Birmingham with his mum Carol (Poppy Lee Friar). Carol is white. Leon is eight-years old and not white. His baby brother is white. Leon has to take care of the new baby and his mother. None of this is right.

Their local-authority foster carer, Maureen (Monica Dolan) brings love and stability into their lives. In the book, she is black and Leon thinks of her as elderly. In the adaptation, she is white.

‘Is it cause I’m black?’ Ali G used to both ridicule and get a rise out of white authority figures in the nineteen-nineties.

Leon asks the same question when his baby brother gets taken away and adopted. The unfunny answer is yes. It is because you’re black as Jackie Kay (Scottish author and poet laurate) tells the reader in her memoirs, whose Communist parents took not only her, but her brother not in an act of heroism, but of love. Brexit is also a constant reminder of the hate we’re fed from an early age. Leon’s age also worked against him, social worker Salma (Shobna Gulati) explained to him. Adoptive parents, generally, want babies and puppies, not baggage.

When worn-out Maureen gets sick, her sharp-tongued sister, Sylvia (Olivia Williams) steps in until she gets better. Leon finds his father-figure on his bike. Following Tufty Burrows (Malachi Kirby) on his racer to his plot, where he grows Leon up to the black boy he needs to be, rooted in fellowships and black culture. If life was that simple, I’d grow two of them like horns.     

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