Sir Lenny Henry's 6-part drama Three Little Birds is inspired by the stories from those who travelled from the Caribbean in the 1950s and 1960s to make Britain their home, including his own mother. The "life affirming drama" follows fun-loving sisters Leah and Chantrelle and their virtuous, bible-loving acquaintance, Hosanna, as they board a cruise ship heading from Jamaica to a new life in Great Britain. Lenny Henry describes them as "a serious tenacious one, a quick witted flibbertigibbet and a Christian prude".
Saffron Coomber plays Chantrelle who has said that she sees Three Little Birds as the project of a lifetime. “I screamed when I found out that I was cast in Three Little Birds,” she says. “It is a dream come true. Chantrelle is the kind of character I’d only hoped I’d get to play one day.”
She added: “It is an honour to tell an overlooked story of British history that is so close not only to my family but to so many, notwithstanding working with Lenny, who has been a legend in my home since I can remember. I am constantly inspired by my castmates and the stellar crew. I am in awe of the project and can’t wait to share it – pinch me!”
When the 3 girls arrive in Notting Hill they quickly discover it's not all it's cracked up to be and move to the Midlands. The journey for the three girls as they settle into their new lives isn't an easy one, and we learn some shocking truths about the lives they left in Jamaica, but their spirit never leaves them and we see them triumph as they overcome racism and lack of integration to build a new life in Britain.
Amy Beth Hayes also stars in the show as Mrs Wantage, who, along with her husband, employs Chantrelle as a live-in nanny. However it transpires that they expect far more from her than just cooking shepherd’s pie and minding their three children.
Lenny Henry has said that writing the series as been a life-long dream come true, adding that it will be a" tribute to the giants who came before us and walked cold streets to create new lives for themselves.” He went on to say that "Although these are fictional accounts, my mother’s narrative will run throughout these stories and hopefully, the stories of other post Windrush arrivals will trigger memories, smiles and tears too".
Scriptwriter Russell T Davies has been working in consultation with Sir Lenny on the script and is also an executive producer.
Three Little Birds will premiere on ITV1 in 2023. No exact release date has been confirmed.