Nottingham’s author Paris Lees announces new BBC series based on hit book

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Nottingham’s own Paris Lees has announced she is working on a series based on her hit memoir, What it Feels like for a Girl

The novelist, activist and author tweeted the news this morning adding that it had been very difficult to stay quiet about the project. The memoir which was released in 2021 is set to be an eight-part series for BBC Three and iPlayer.

The project, much like the book will be a ‘wild, anarchic Y2k spin’ meets ‘coming of age’ drama about Lees's life. It will be made by Hera Pictures and adapted for television by Lees and the lead director will be Chris Sweeney from The Tourist, Back To Life. It will start filming in 2024.

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Nottingham features heavily in the book as young Lees details growing up in Hucknell, coming out as gay at a young age before realising that she is transgender. There are some iconic Nottingham venues such as Palais De Danse in there too that locals will recognise.

The book does not shy away from the more gritty parts of Lees’ life including a stint in sex work and prison. Her writing is raw, and honest without holding back as she details what led her to become the successful writer she is today.

Y2k fans, and those of us who are old enough to remember it the first time, will rejoice in reliving the hedonistic years of the early 00s. Remember Basement Jaxx, Madonna’s ‘Confessions on a Dance Floor’ and Moloko topping the charts while Nottingham’s LGBT+ scene had the Palais, Central, NG1 and @AD2.

A snippet describing the show said: ‘It’s a new millennium - Madonna, Moloko and Basement Jaxx top the charts, and there’s a whole world to explore. But teenager Byron is stuck in a small working-class town that hasn’t been the same since the coal mine shut in the 80s. Sick of mam, sick of dad, sick of being beaten up for “talkin’ like a poof”. Sick of everyone shuffling about like the living dead, going on about kitchens they’re too skint to do up and marriages they’re too scared to leave. Byron needs to get away, and doesn’t care how.’

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“The party can't last though, and when Byron is seduced by bad boy Liam, a shocking encounter occurs that will change life forever.”

Writer and executive producer Paris Lees says: "I’m excited, hysterical, thrown and overblown with bliss, but most of all I’m just having so much fun bringing this universe to life in a visual medium. It’s a primal scream - from the depths of a council estate - against a world that would prefer people who don’t fit the norm didn’t exist. But we do and we’re not going away, we’re not apologising and we’re not shutting up.”

“This is a deeply personal project and I’m thrilled to be working with the BBC and the team at Hera who have been so supportive of both me and my creative vision. The fact Chris Sweeney is directing, well, I feel like I’m top of the pops. I can’t wait for everyone to see what we’re cooking up."

Liza Marshall, executive producer for Hera Pictures says: “Paris is a truly exciting talent. She has created a daringly distinctive world, richly drawn characters that viewers will fall in love with, and a compelling story that will challenge perceptions. With Paris, the BBC and Chris Sweeney, we have found the dream team of creative partners and we could not be more thrilled to be working with them to bring this ground-breaking series to life in a way that is just as funny, gobby, joyful, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking as her original memoir.”

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Lindsay Salt, Director of BBC Drama said: “We’re delighted to join forces with Paris Lees, Chris Sweeney and all at Hera Pictures to bring Paris’ fantastic debut book to BBC Three and iPlayer. Anyone who’s read What It Feels Like For A Girl will know what a hugely distinctive, surprising and moving work it is, and its journey to the BBC - adapted by Paris herself - see the arrival of an exciting new voice in UK television.”

Lead director and executive producer Chris Sweeney said: “What a team to be making this with. Paris is a unique talent, Hera Pictures are an extraordinary bunch, and the team at the BBC have been so supportive of what is a truly special story. I’m very excited about this show.”

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