A new comedy by best-selling author Bolu Babalola has been commissioned by Channel 4 as part of the broadcaster’s Black To Front day.
The channel plans to air programmes fronted by black talent and featuring black contributors to champion those voices and stories on September 10.
Babalola’s Big Age centres around a group of four young black British friends who are battling parents’ expectations, personal dreams and maxed out credit cards.
The pilot will see Ronkẹ Adekoluẹjo, who recently played Jack Starbright in spy thriller series Alex Rider, star as the protagonist Sade, 25, who is ambitious, fierce and dreams of being a writer, but has moments of deep insecurity.
The other three members of the group consist of her artistic best friend Dela, played by Racheal Ofori, Sade’s unrequited love Zeke, portrayed by Michael Workeye, and the grounding force of the group Tayo, played by CJ Beckford.
Babalola, 30, published the best-selling anthology Love In Colour in 2020, which is a collection of reimagined love stories from history and mythology spanning from West Africa to Ancient Greece.
She said: “It is quite literally a dream come true to have the opportunity to bring Big Age to life with Channel 4.
“It’s been a great joy to develop these characters and this world over the years, and I am so thrilled that a place that has housed so many of my favourite shows has chosen to help me share it.”
She described central character Sade as a “young woman with big dreams and a big heart”, and said the show is a “celebration of friendship, ambition with heart, and the connections that propel us forward in newly formulating adulthood”.
The writer added: “With great thanks to Tiger Aspect and my wonderful producer and creative partner Amy Annette, I cannot wait for the world to meet (and fall in love with) Sade and the gang.”
Fiona McDermott, head of comedy at Channel 4, added: “When we first read this script, Sade and Dela just bounced off the page.
“Funny, contemporary and surprising characters that have a deliciously moreish, comic energy.
“We knew we needed to see them come to life.
“We’re so pleased to be working with Bolu on this, her first scripted project, and beyond thrilled that she and Big Age are part of our Black To Front commitment.”
During the Black To Front takeover day, Bafta-winning comedian Mo Gilligan and presenter AJ Odudu will host a one-off special of the morning show The Big Breakfast, while veteran broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald, 81, will present game show Countdown.
Some of Channel 4’s other biggest shows, including Celebrity Gogglebox and Channel 4 News, will also be fronted by black contributors.
The channel’s soap opera Hollyoaks will have an hour-long special written, directed and performed by its black talent.
Channel 4’s deputy director of programmes Kelly Webb-Lamb previously said: “Behind the camera, Channel 4 is working together with our production partners to shape ambitious and meaningful off-screen commitments, making sure that Black To Front lives on beyond one day, accelerating careers and bringing about significant change that will leave a lasting legacy across the UK TV industry.”