BBC Three commissions musical drama, Glasgow Girls

True story inspires BBC Three musical drama

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BBC Three and BBC Scotland have commissioned a new sixty-minute musical drama, Glasgow Girls, starring Gary Lewis (Billy Elliot, Gangs Of New York) and Greg Hemphill (Still Game).

The musical is inspired by the true story of a group of schoolgirls whose petition to save their friend from deportation inspired a movement, which would eventually help change immigration practices in Scotland.

When 15-year-old Agnesa Murselaj, a Roma from Kosovo, and pupil at Glasgow’s Drumchapel High, was taken by Immigration officers in a dawn raid, her friends refused to let her go without a fight. As she and her family awaited deportation at a detention centre in London, fellow pupils Amal, from Somalia; Roza, from Kurdistan; Ewelina, a Polish Roma; and local Drumchapel teenagers Emma, Jennifer and Toni-Lee, banded together to campaign for her release.

The story of the girls’ campaign was originally captured in an Amnesty International award-winning BBC Scotland documentary in 2005 and has since inspired a stage musical.

Gary Lewis plays Drumchapel High’s bilingual support teacher Euan Girvan and Greg Hemphill takes on the role of First Minister of Scotland Jack McConnell. Kirstie Steele plays Jennifer and Erin Armstrong will play Emma, Roza will be played by Aruhan Galieva, Agnesa by Olivia Popica, Amal by Letitia Wright, Ewelina is played by Effie Scott and Toni-Lee by Kirsty Pickering.

Glasgow Girls is executive produced by BAFTA and Emmy award-winning Colin Barr for Minnow Films, who says: “This true story has all the makings of a brilliant drama – a group of dynamic characters proving how young people can make big changes in the world. Bringing the story to life will be an extremely talented cast, who perfectly capture the spirit of the real characters they represent. Music inspired the real Glasgow Girls and so is integral part of this production. Contemporary and recognisable songs will be performed in unfamiliar ways, pulling the story forward and heightening big moments.”

It was commissioned by Zai Bennett, Former Controller, BBC Three, who said: “Glasgow Girls is a thrilling blend of true story, high drama and musical storytelling. Only a channel like BBC Three would attempt to re-tell a hard hitting immigration story in this way.”

The film, which is part of the BBC’s Commonwealth Games programming, was directed by Brian Welsh (The Escape Artist, Black Mirror) who has co-wrote the script with Joe Barton. Kate Cook is producing for Minnow Films (The Fallen, 7/7: One Day in London).