They say the course of true love never did run smooth, and in the case of Noughts + Crosses season 2's star-crossed lovers Callum (Jack Rowan) and Sephy (Masali Baduza), things really couldn’t have been much rougher.
In series one of the dystopian drama based on Malorie Blackman’s books, the former childhood friends fell in love across the racial divide in an alternative London riven by racial tension between a white (nought) underclass and a black (cross) ruling class.
After their relationship fell apart, Callum helped radical nought group the Liberation Militia kidnap Sephy and blackmail her father Kamal (Paterson Joseph), the Prime Minister.
However, in a cliffhanger ending, Sephy revealed she was carrying Callum’s baby, and the pair went on the run in search of a new life.
As we rejoin them for a four-part second series, Peaky Blinders actor Rowan says the stakes are now even higher, as Kamal introduces the death penalty for members of the Militia who are apprehended, and a cross vigilante group is carrying out violent reprisals in nought communities.
"The environment seems harsher this time around," says Rowan. "When a baby is born into an inter-racial relationship in this world, there’s a word for them – a ‘half’. Callum and Sephy, who are still young themselves, are wondering: 'Is this actually a place would want our child to grow up in?'"
In many ways, he adds, in deciding to stay together, Callum and Sephy have made life much more difficult for both of them.
"There really is nowhere to go," he says. "It probably would have been easier if they just shook hands and said 'See you later. Maybe we'll reconnect when we're a bit older, somewhere secret.'"
Instead, the pair hatch a dangerous plan to leave the country using Callum’s brother’s contacts in the people-smuggling business. "They're both thrust into a world that is unfamiliar to them," reveals South African actor Baduza. "They are facing conflict and challenging situations in the outside world, but at the same time their relationship grows and matures."
However, Sephy still feels the pull of family strongly, and Kamal is desperate to persuade her to come home.
"Growing up as a politician's daughter, Sephy was very secluded and isolated," says Baduza. "So to leave behind everything she's ever known is very difficult for her. She doesn't agree with her dad and his belief system, but it’s very hard to sever that relationship."
Where can I watch Noughts + Crosses?
Noughts and Crosses season 2 kicks off on Tuesday, April 26 at 10.40pm on BBC1 and episodes will later be available on-demand.
The first season of Noughts and Crosses is currently available on-demand via iPlayer and on Peacock over in the US.
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Ian writes about TV and film for TV Times, What’s on TV and TV & Satellite Week magazines. He co-hosts the weekly TV streaming podcast, Bingewatch.