My Name is Leon, written by Screen and Film School Birmingham Patron Kit de Waal, premieres on BBC

22 June, 2022

Everyone at Screen and Film School Birmingham are delighted to share the news that our fantastic patron Kit de Waal’s novel My Name is Leon has been adapted for television and premiered on BBC Two on Friday 10 June.

The novel, which was published in 2016 and was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award, is set in 1980’s Birmingham, amongst the cultural clash of riots and royal weddings. Told through the eyes of nine-year-old Leon, the story follows his separation from his much-loved baby brother Jake when they are taken into care. Between the street violence and the street parties, Leon must find a way to reunite his family.

This plot is characteristic of a brilliant novelist who has roots in the Midlands: Kit was born in Birmingham to an Irish mother, who worked as a childminder and as a fostercarer, and a Caribbean father. She worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law, was a magistrate for several years and sits on adoption panels. She used to advise Social Services on the care of foster children, and has written training manuals on adoption, foster care and judge craft for members of the judiciary.

The one-off, 90-minute adaptation stars child actor Cole Martin in the lead role, and he is surrounded by a supporting cast stacked with British acting talent, including Christopher Eccleston and Birmingham-born Sir Lenny Henry.

Kit’s other works of fiction include The Trick to Time (2018), Becoming Dinah (2019), and Supporting Cast (2020). She also has written for BBC, Radio 4, The Old Vic and The Abbey Theatre in Dublin and co-wrote The Third Day for SKY/HBO/Plan B. Kit’s Production company, Portopia Productions, also became an Industry Partner to Screen and Film School Birmingham back in March of this year.

Kit founded Portopia with her brother Dean O’Loughlin, basing themselves just outside of Birmingham during lockdown in the summer of 2020. Their mission statement is to actively seek out existing and emerging talent, particularly from under-represented communities, to access, generate and develop ideas they feel will make compelling viewing across film, TV and digital platforms. A notion that chimes with all of us here at the Film School.

Our Head of Industry and Careers at Screen and Film School Manchester, Natalie Edwards, had this to say about the recent success of My Name is Leon:

“I think it’s extremely exciting to see Kit’s incredible novel on the big screen. The masterclasses we will host with Kit on the subjects of screenwriting and storytelling at Screen Film School Birmingham will be magnificent. The students are very fortunate to be able to have a patron with this background, and I am so happy to have someone as talented as Kit championing our school.”

There’s nothing we enjoy more than sharing good news about our patrons and industry partners here at Screen and Film School. We aim to deliver the very best names in the film and media industry to our students, and we will continue to strive to do so when the academic year begins in September.



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