Interview with Josh Cole (Head of Comedy, BBC Studios/Executive Producer) on Black Ops



What attracted you this?

I think it's just a combination of people that are extremely talented and a smart idea really. It was people we want to work with and people we already were working with and wanted to do something else. So, with Gbemi and AK having come through the Famalam stable and wanting to progress what we're doing with them and take it into a serialised show rather than a sketch show – so they can stretch themselves, comedically and dramatically. It just all felt very irresistible, talent wise.

Was it an easy process to get it made?

The BBC were always super enthusiastic about the prospect of it, but we just needed to get the script right – and that sounds a lot easier than it actually is. But that’s where the combination of AK, Gbemi, Joe [Tucker] and Lloyd [Woolf] came in, because Joe and Lloyd are experienced script writers, so they brought a sort of more experienced head, I guess, and then combining with AK and Gbemi who then wrote other episodes, it just all worked really, really well.

What makes this show special?

I don't really think there's anything else like this. In terms of the tone, I’d say that it occupies that space in between comedy and drama very naturally, which I think is probably more of a tone associated with American film and television than over here in the UK. I think it manages to be both a page turner of a series as well as being very naturally funny. And I think it just feels very fresh. It's hard to pigeonhole. It doesn't take itself seriously but it's also doing something which I like a lot, which is organic representation, where it doesn't feel contrived in a way that TV shows often do when they try and do that. It’s the sort of thing that there should be more of. And I'm so grateful that the BBC have properly supported brilliant talent. I wouldn't call them a new talent because they're not, but this is the first time that they've held their own show on BBC One. They're not quite household names yet and it still requires a lot of belief from the BBC, so I think that needs to be acknowledged.

It's a comedy but it also tackles more serious issues as well.

There's a depth to it and there are nods towards more serious themes. It’s unapologetically comedic in parts and there's poignancy and meaningful themes under there, which I'm really happy is part of the offering. So, I think hopefully there's something for everyone – as long as you've got a sense of humour. And if you haven’t, you could theoretically watch it as a drama.

Gbemi and Hammed have a great on-screen chemistry. Were you impressed by that?

Yeah, I mean I’ve worked with Gbemi and I know she is brilliant, but I think she just kind of went to a whole other level with [her character] Dom, and it's that combination with Hammed who, again, has got a great reputation, but actually to see him across the canvas of six episodes bring so much to Kay, was a real joy. Their chemistry is very, very good, it’s very natural. I'm excited for people to watch and hopefully fall in love with them.

What do you hope viewers will take from this?

I think just to fall in love with the characters and find it as entertaining as it is designed to be.

Is there scope for a second series?

Definitely. It's all set up. I think there's a lot of optimism around season two, but people need to watch it first.

The last episode tees it up nicely for another series.

Yeah, we want to do more, it's been so fun. I see a lot of projects but they're rarely as undeniable as this. A lot of projects require a huge amount of heavy lifting, with this you've got all these talented elements, it was just putting them in the right order. It was quite unusual in that respect. And Joe and Lloyd have been really, really good as well, that combination has worked incredibly well. And Gbemi, who we’re doing another series with, is such a great writer. I mean, she was so busy. I'd like her on series two, and on this one, to write more. I think that writer-performer element and AK having directed on the series as well, it's a real showcase for its creators’ varying talents.

How many episodes did Gbemi do?

She’s full writer on one and she's like additional material on the other five. She's across the full series and then Racheal Ofori ended up writing episode four and did a great job, so there's a lot of talent in the mix really.


Black Ops debuts on BBC One on Friday 5th May at 9:30pm.

The six-part series will then continue airing episodes at the same time each Friday evening.

Source BBC One

April 27, 2023 4:00am ET by BBC One  


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