Boarders: the comedy drama created by Lewisham resident now available on BBC iPlayer

Lewisham born writer and actor Daniel Lawrence Taylor’s comedy drama ‘Boarders’ is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

Boarders is about five young black underprivileged students that receive scholarships to top St. Gilbert’s – one of the country’s most oldest and most prestigious private schools. 

The series follows five leads (Jaheim, Toby, Leah, Femi and Omar) as they navigate their way through this very alien world which is steeped in the complexities of race, class, money and power.

ON THEIR WAY TO GREATNESS: The future stars forced to adapt to an alien environment
ON THEIR WAY TO GREATNESS: The future stars forced to adapt to an alien environment (credit BBC)

The comedy drama is first intended to be fun. Taylor mentioned how he wants the viewer to come away having a deep understanding of the characters.

Taylor also wants to educate the audience on the struggles of the black British experience.

Taylor said: “It’s a fun entertaining show. If I was to describe the show in three words, they would be – fun, exciting and surprising.

“The show also showcases how black individuals often have to shapeshift and assimilate when placed into foreign environments”

Growing up in Lewisham massively impacted who Taylor is today.

Taylor added: “Lewisham is home sweet home and I love seeing how much the area has changed.

“My daughter was also born in Lewisham hospital.”

Taylor grew up relatively poor in Lewisham, with his single mum and four siblings.

He expressed his gratefulness for his mum’s insistence on attaining higher level education, and how his transition from Lewisham to attending Royal Holloway birthed the idea of the show.

STANDING THEIR GROUND: The nuances of the black British experience are explored in the show
STANDING THEIR GROUND: The nuances of the black British experience are explored in the show (credit BBC)

After coming across an article highlighting how five black boys received scholarships to a private school in Rugby, Taylor resonated deeply with the article, and the subsequent parallels with Boarders are evident.

Taylor further mentioned the importance of maintaining cultural integrity, and expressed the intentional effort to hire black individuals.

Taylor added: “When I think of shows that represent the culture very well, they all hire black.

“Solely black writers were used, the first director is black, hair and make-up was all done by black people, the costume designer was also black, and we showed kids the script in their schools to guarantee of the script’s authenticity.”

To achieve the show’s vision, for Taylor, it was important for the five main characters to have chemistry with each other both on and off set.

Taylor recounts how during the auditions the candidates were observed during their breaks to perceive how they interacted with each other.

Taylor wanted to highlight the diverse response to the experience by creating five characters who respond very differently to the adversity, but still persevere and have fun.

Taylor said: “I wrote five very distinct lead characters so when it came to casting I wanted to make sure that everybody matched those characters. I really wanted them to not only to be different but to look and sound different as well.”

MASTER MENTOR: Daniel Lawrence Taylor as Gus assumes the role of mentor to the five leads
MASTER MENTOR: Daniel Lawrence Taylor as ‘Gus’ assumes the role of mentor to the five leads (credit BBC)

With previous acting experience in ITV’2s comedy Cockroaches and The Inbetweeners, Taylor decided to utilise his acting prowess and play Gus, the mentor.

Taylor says that it wasn’t his intention to be in the show, but as the character was developed in the writer’s room, it became more appealing to take the role and he decided to get involved – and is glad he did.

When quizzed on future plans, Taylor added: “As we speak I am currently working on story lines for season two so expect more fun and more adventure.

“If you enjoy series one, you will definitely enjoy series two”.

The show is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer, and is being released in America on March 8.

All images courtesy of the BBC

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