Noughts + Crosses – The TV Show Discussion

Hey guys! I wrote a post a while back about the Noughts and Crosses books, and I took a nosedive into the BBC iteration of the series as well. And here we go. Spoilers included!

It’s clear that this adaptation is essentially a loose adaptation. While there are some familiar characters, such as the McGregors and Hadleys, there are additional characters involved, some seem to have disappeared, and the story is a new story that takes place in the same universe with the same characters.

Would I have liked a very accurate depiction of the books? Absolutely.

Am I displeased with the results of this TV show? Absolutely not.

A lot of the story is completely different. Instead of Callum and Sephy growing up together and sneaking around to see each other throughout their childhood, they reunite in this after a long time apart. Sephy has a boyfriend in the beginning, Lekan. Callum opts for a military service rather than going to Heathcroft High with Sephy. Callum and Jude’s sister, Lynette, doesn’t exist in this story.

The whole story starts off with an illegal gathering that ends in police brutality similar to how black people are treated in the real world, and ends up with the victim, Danny, becoming the martyr figure that the Liberation Militia uses. It’s strange considering that this series came out only a couple of weeks before George Floyd’s death from police brutality, which in turn reignited the Black Lives Matter movement.

Hang on, they brought Pete Tyler (Doctor Who) into this as the leader of the Liberation Militia? Holy f-

Well, at least the Liberation Militia (L.M.) stayed in the fray, which it kinda has to considering it’s the backbone for the first three books. I didn’t recognise that Emily from Friends is in this as Meggie, but it has been a hot second since Ross said Rachel’s name at the altar. And Ryan is Professor Quirrell. I mean sure, at least we know Voldemort isn’t on his head this time…I’m getting sidetracked. But this series initially focuses heavily on the world around them even more so than the books do, I daresay.

Kamal is another character that you love to hate, just like in the books. His words “There is strength in difference” is taken wrongly as well. I would say that in the fact that literally everyone is different and that we can all share our opinions and experiences to make the world a stronger place – you know, the whole Equality and Diversity thing. However, in the context of this series, it’s more grounds for division between Noughts and Crosses.

Of course there are a lot of plot points from the source material that made it into the book. This includes the following:

  • The aforementioned love story between Callum and Sephy
  • Kamal’s illegitimate child (although Yaro is actually present in this instead of being relegated to a news article in Crossfire)
  • Jasmine’s affair at the beginning of the story
  • Meggie being the Hadley’s housekeeper (although she’s fired in the middle of this series rather than at the beginning)
  • Jude being a part of the L.M.
  • Sephy blurting out the slur ‘blanker’ in relatiation to an assault
  • Jasmine’s alcohol problems
  • A bombing and Ryan’s subsequent arrest, trial, imprisonment and death (although the circumstances of his death is different)
  • Callum joining the L.M. and kidnapping Sephy
  • Sephy’s pregnancy (although a lot of circumstances around it are different)

Of course, because of the shift in story, these all happen for different reasons, different motivations, and at different times. But they all work within the story. I’m really pleased that these plot points made it in, despite the difference in the way that the series was structured compared to the books.

One of the things that impressed me about this show was the aesthetic. I think a lot of people assumed that the location would be a regular London city with the Cross elite, but it takes on more of an African theme, which I adore. Of course, it was filmed in South Africa, and the Crosses dress really well, in these traditional outfits. The costuming was beautiful, and so were the locations – yes, even Meadowview, which is supposed too look like a rubbish sack, so I’ve heard. But I love it because of the contrast between the rundown areas where Noughts occupy and the fancy, polished neighbourhoods where Crosses live. I also love the establishing shots with the view of the modified London, focusing on the changes due to the difference in culture.

Overall this series is a hell of a lot darker than the original story. And for that I’m really happy with that. I understand that a lot of book-to-film or book-to-series adaptations can be disappointing if not kept originally to the source material. However, because this doesn’t pretend to follow the story directly, it’s a lot easier to take this adaptation as its own story. It’s easy to draw comparisons and parallels, but that’s just what you do, especially when you’ve literally just read the source material for the 20th time (I’m not even exaggerating).

My partner hasn’t seen the series yet, or read the books. But I’ll be more than happy to watch it with him and I know he’ll really enjoy the TV show more, because of its darker tone and emphasis on militant action.

I really enjoyed this! And I’m looking forward to see what comes of the series, if a series 2 is ever made. I can’t see that happening for various reasons, but mostly due to where the series is in terms of story. So what did you all think of it? Let me know!

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