Three Little Birds: ITV axe Lenny Henry Windrush drama after just one season

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Sir Lenny Henry said that ‘many black dramas’ are only getting one season, as he questioned the fate of Black TV dramas.

Three Little Birds, the Windrush drama created by Sir Lenny Henry has been axed by ITV. The six-part series was based on the Windrush scandal and was inspired by the story of his mother’s journey to Britain in the late 1950s.

Created by Henry and Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies, it originally aired in November 2023, with nearly three million people tuning in to follow the story of Leah Whittaker (Rochelle Neil), who after fleeing an abusive relationship, travels to England with her three children and sister Chantrelle (Saffron Coomber).

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Despite being a hit with viewers, Henry has revealed it will not be returning for a second season, with the veteran comic, explaining that “These days, it seems that many black dramas only get one series.”

What has Sir Lenny Henry said?

Speaking to The Guardian, about the series being axed Henry said: "These days, it seems that many black dramas only get one series, there are numerous examples of this – and sadly, Three Little Birds is just one more in that same category."

He continued: “We were only just getting to know Rochelle Neil, Saffron Coomber, Yazmin Belo and Javone Prince and their stellar performances as Leah, Chantrelle, Hosanna and Aston: the audience reaction was amazing and I had some really good storylines planned for their characters.”

Henry thanked, “everyone at ITV for commissioning Three Little Birds in the first place” and said he was, “very proud of our achievement – we’ve won awards and put out real stories that speak to a lot of people”.

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But he added: “the reality is these days, the TV market is very tricky to navigate unless there are big names attached to a project. A show will often get just one shot and if it doesn’t meet broadcaster expectations – that’s it – it’s likely cancelled after one series. We sadly don’t give shows the opportunity to grow with the audience, like we did 10/15 years ago, which probably is down to how we consume things.”

He called for “longer-term investment in lesser-known and diverse talent, in order to make them the stars of tomorrow. ” Revealing that he planned to continue the story of the “characters from Three Little Birds” in a book, joking: “Meanwhile, moving forward, I’ll just have to pitch TV projects starring Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Judi Dench. Wish me luck!”

Where can I watch Three Little Birds?

Despite not renewing the drama for a second series, the first season of Three Little Birds is still available to watch on ITVX.

Sarah McCann is a Trends Writer for NationalWorld who specialises in stories around TV, Film and Health. If you liked this article you can follow Sarah on X (Twitter) here. You can also sign up to her free weekly column in the NationalWorld newsletter bringing you the latest tv and film news every Thursday.

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