LONDON, UK (24 August 2022) - Disney+ today announced “A Thousand Blows” (w/t), an epic new 12-part series set in the perilous world of illegal boxing in 1880s Victorian London. It’s brought to life by acclaimed screenwriter Steven Knight (“Peaky Blinders”, “Spencer” “Taboo”), starring and executive produced by British screen titan Stephen Graham (“Help”, “Time”, “The Irishman”). 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.
“A Thousand Blows” (w/t) (12x60’) 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 will also act as executive producer on the series.
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.”
Disney+ will be creating 60 local productions by 2024 as it continues to work with outstanding creators and premium producers as part of the company’s commitment to source, develop and produce original productions in Europe.
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About The Story Collective
THE STORY COLLECTIVE is a UK-based global content studio set up to back both script development and new production company start-ups in scripted television. Led by CEO Damian Keogh, The Story Collective is working with ambitious creatives to help acquire rights, commission scripts, package projects and manage the sales process. Backed to make expansive moves by Endeavor Content, The Story Collective is also planning to make equity investments into content businesses, ranging from start-ups to more established producers. The executive management of The Story Collective includes Damian Keogh (former Managing Director of Lookout Point), Helen Jackson (the former Content Chief of BBC Worldwide) as Executive Chair and Simon Vaughan (drama production veteran and founder of Lookout Point) as Executive Director. Also on the board are Non-Executive Directors Jonathan Norman (MD at global investment bank Houlihan Lokey) and Chris Rice (Co-President of Endeavor Content).
About Matriarch Productions
Matriarch Productions is an entertainment production company founded by actors Stephen Graham and Hannah Walters. The company was established in 2020 with the aim of providing a much-needed platform for underrepresented voices and stories in the UK. Championing diversity and inclusivity within the entertainment industry, the organisation produces both film and television projects offering opportunities for underrepresented talent both in front of and behind the camera. Matriarch Productions’ first feature film ‘Boiling Point’ premiered at the London Film Festival in October 2021 and was released in theatres in the UK in January 2022. ‘Boiling Point’ was released on Netflix in March 2022.
About Water & Power Productions
Water & Power Productions was founded by Tom Miller, Sam Myer, and James Swarbrick to work across film and TV production. To date their productions include the hit independent film THE PHANTOM OF THE OPEN starring Mark Rylance, Sally Hawkins, and Rhys Ifans; and the hugely popular Sky series CODE 404 starring Stephen Graham, Daniel Mays, and Anna Maxwell Martin, now running to its third season. A THOUSAND BLOWS represents a continuation of the relationship between W&P and Stephen Graham and Hannah Walters.
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