BBC Studios Signs Development Deal With Mo Abudu Of EbonyLife, Set Six-Part Heist Thriller ‘Reclaim’

BBC Studios Drama Productions has set up a development partnership with Nigerian TV pioneer Mosunmola “Mo” Abudu, founder and CEO of entertainment network EbonyLife Media. The deal was brokered by CAA.

The deal will see BBC Studios Drama Productions develop a new action-adventure series with Abudu’s EbonyLife. The drama, titled Reclaim, is written by BAFTA Breakthrough Brit Rowan Athale (The Rise) and is based on an original idea by Mo Abudu, Heidi Uys and Bode Asiyanbi. EbonyLife has described it as its “first big-budget, global series”.

The six part heist thriller series will combine themes of colonialism, race and cultural ownership as it follows a team of art thieves looking to return artworks stolen by the British Empire 125 years ago from the Kingdom of Benin, back to its rightful home in Nigeria.

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On his death bed, billionaire art collector, Chief Inneh, hands his life’s mission over to his daughter Idia Nicole Inneh: she must reclaim four looted ivory masks depicting Queen Idia, the first Queen Mother of the 16th century Benin Empire. The exquisite masks are on display in museums in Britain, Germany, and the United States, and have to be returned to Nigeria to restore national pride.  A woman of action with nothing to lose, Idia assembles a kick-ass team of talented but morally dubious individuals from around the globe including world-class art thief Matthew Jones, art expert Xena Kanene, yahoo-boy Hector Mawusi and logistics genius Lindiwe Radebe.

Abudu, a recipient of MIPTV’s Médailles d’Honneur, was described by Forbes as “Africa’s Most Successful Woman”.

Priscilla Parish, Head of Drama, BBC Studios said: “I am thrilled to announce this collaboration with EbonyLife. Mo Abudu has an extraordinary track record in bringing previously unheard stories to a wide audience. Reclaim’s breathtaking action-adventure is underpinned by thoughtful and timely themes and declares our shared intention to create stories which have both local and international resonance. Rowan Athale is the perfect writer to bring this story to life, having written both commercial hits and arthouse breakouts. I cannot wait to start production on this event series’

Rowan Athale, writer, commented: “It is a great pleasure to be working with Mo Abudu and BBC Studios on Reclaim. The moment I heard Ebonylife’s pitch, I knew I had to join the team. I am excited and honoured be writing Reclaim, and I look forward to sharing our ground-breaking series with a global audience.”

Abudu added: “Reclaim is our first big-budget, global series, set partly in the UK. It is a dream come true for two reasons – first, it is a partnership with BBC Studios; second, the project will debut under EbonyLife Productions UK. We set up EbonyLife in London because our global strategy includes expansion to the UK and the United States. As Nigerians and Africans, we should see ourselves as world citizens and our storytelling, locations and networks should extend to every corner of the globe. I am delighted with this opportunity to extend our reach into the UK with a great story and a formidable partner.”

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