In Review

Guerrilla: What is Idris Elba's new TV series about?

Luther star teams up with Twelve Years a Slave writer for tense drama about race politics in the 1970s

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Two trailers have been released for Guerrilla, a new series about the Black Power movement in 1970s' Britain.

Set to air later this year, the six-part series from Oscar winner John Ridley, who wrote Twelve Years a Slave, stars Idris Elba, Freida Pinto, Babou Ceesay and Rory Kinnear and chronicles a race struggle played out in the streets of London.

The story, which is loosely based on true events, centres on young couple Jas (Pinto) and Marcus (Ceesay), whose relationship and values are tested when they attempt to free a political prisoner and form a radical underground cell.

Their target ultimately becomes the "black power desk", a real counterintelligence unit that operated within the Special Branch. But the show also poses the hypothetical question of what would have happened if the Black Power movement had been armed.

The dramatic trailers - one for the US release on Showtime, the second for Sky Atlantic in the UK - show how Jas and Pinto get swept up in radical activism after suffering at the hands a racist system and an abusive police force.

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The second trailer features a sombre voiceover from Ceesay: "But when you're black and British, there's a constant struggle to understand who you really are – a citizen or a visitor."

We are also given glimpses of protests, the unfolding violence on the streets and a tense standoff with Marcus pointing a gun at an unknown enemy.

Elba, who plays Kent, an activist dedicated to a more pacifist approach, and is a co-producer on the series, told Empire magazine: "I've had the honour of working on both sides of the screen on this project and coming back to my home town, working in east London, has made this experience, this story, even more personal. I know one thing for sure: this is a very special drama."

Jack Giroux at SlashFilm says the Showtime trailer offers an impressive first look at a series that looks "tense, relevant, and dramatic, and seems to contain some must-see performances from all around".

Ridley is "a fine director as well as an exceptional writer", he adds, and his 2013 Jimi Hendrix biopic, Jimi: All Is by My Side, "flew way too under the radar".

Guerrilla debuts in the UK on Sky Atlantic on 13 April.

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