It’s been quite a year since my last post. To great excitement and lots of media interest this week, streamer Disney+ announced A Thousand Blows (a working title) – an epic new 12-part series set in the perilous world of illegal boxing in 1880s Victorian London. With even greater excitement, I finally get to tell people that I’m working as a historical consultant on the show.
Brought to life by acclaimed screenwriter Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders, Spencer, Taboo), A Thousand Blows stars and is executive produced by British screen titan and one of my favourite actors, Stephen Graham (uh, not as Hezekiah Moscow. Keep reading…)!
The series is being produced by The Story Collective in a co-production with Matriarch Productions and Water & Power Productions. The UK Original series will premiere on Disney+ globally, Star+ in Latin America and Hulu in the US.
The thrilling series follows Hezekiah and Alec, two best friends from Jamaica who find themselves thrust into the vibrant and violent melting pot of post-industrial revolution London’s East End.
Drawn into the criminal underbelly of the thriving boxing scene, Hezekiah meets Mary Carr, leader of The Forty Elephants – the notorious all-female London gang – as they battle for survival on the streets.
As Hezekiah sharpens his new skills, he comes up against Sugar Goodson, a seasoned and dangerous boxer played by Stephen Graham, and the two are soon locked into an intense rivalry that spills out way beyond the ring.
Grappling With History readers, @wrestling1880s followers, those of you who have read the National Archives’ school resource based on my research, and erm… anyone who’s been in my bedroom and seen my framed photo of Hezekiah Moscow… will know why this show is an absolute dream come true for me. To get to work on it is such an incredible privilege.
Plot detail and characters are all very much under wraps so I won’t be sharing any more information for now. I will emphasise that A Thousand Blows is a fictional drama series, but it’s inspired by real people and true stories while incorporating all the wonderful creative talents of its creator and writers.
As such, you’ll definitely be subject to some spoilers if you read by 2019-20 blogs on Hezekiah Moscow and Alec Munroe, but I can assure you there will be plenty for you to enjoy about the series.
I can’t WAIT for you to meet the lads.
- Where Did You Go, Hezekiah Moscow? The Life and Times of Ching Hook (Part I: 1882-87)
- Where Did You Go, Hezekiah Moscow? The Life and Times of Ching Hook (Part II: 1888-96)
- Where Did You Go, Hezekiah Moscow? The Life and Times of Ching Hook (Part III: Some Final Thoughts)
- CHING GHOOK WANTED
- Where Did You Go, Hezekiah Moscow? (Part IV: Ching Ghook Found)
- “Murdered in a thieves’ kitchen” – Finding Alexander Hayes Munroe
A Thousand Blows is created, written and executive produced by Steven Knight, visionary creator of Peaky Blinders. It stars Stephen Graham, who will also serve as executive producer alongside Hannah Walters for Matriarch Productions, Damian Keogh and Kate Lewis for The Story Collective, and Tom Miller and Sam Myer for Water & Power Productions.
Award-winning broadcaster and historian Professor David Olusoga (THE David Olusoga) will also act as executive producer on the series.
Another one of my favourite historians, Hallie Rubenhold – a specialist in 18th and 19th century social history and women’s history – is also a historical consultant on the show.
Steven Knight is the lead writer for the series, with episodes also written by Ameir Brown, Insook Chappell, Harlan Davies and Yasmin Joseph.
Tinge Krishnan (WeCrashed, Mosquito Coast, Industry) will serve as lead director and executive producer. The original series is executive produced by Lee Mason, Director of Scripted Content EMEA for Disney+.
Steven Knight, Creator, Writer, Executive Producer, commented: “I’m really thrilled to be working on this project with Stephen as well as the very talented production team and group of writers. I always love to delve into untold history, and this is a story that really deserves to be told. We are recreating an amazing world and telling a remarkable true story.”
Stephen Graham, Star and Executive Producer, commented: “To be able to work with Steve again and the talented team of writers we have for this project is truly wonderful, and to tell the story of these incredible characters during this period of time in London is a joy. Aside from having the privilege of bringing the role of Sugar Goodson to life, I am also extremely proud that Matriarch is co-producing this show whilst helping to create opportunities for people in front of and behind the camera, instilling the ethos of providing training within production that otherwise would be difficult for some to pursue as a career. ‘Don’t count the days… Make the days count.’ – Muhammad Ali.”
Lee Mason, Director of Scripted Content, EMEA, Disney+, commented: “It’s a privilege to work with this extraordinary group of talent, helmed by our fearless creator Steven Knight. A Thousand Blows tells a story that we rarely get to see on screen, and we are delighted to have the inimitable Stephen Graham and visionary Tinge Krishnan help bring this incredible world of richly diverse characters to life.”