Champion review: Candice Carty-Williams’s entertaining BBC rap drama

This “consistently entertaining” BBC drama was written by Candice Carty-Williams, whose 2019 novel “Queenie” was a publishing sensation, said Ellen E. Jones in The Guardian.

The plot revolves around two rival siblings: Bosco Champion (Malcolm Kamulete), a 25-year-old rapper who is fresh out of prison (“trumped-up charges, M’lud”), and his sister Vita (Déja J. Bowens). She is rumoured to have written many of his best bars, but she has never made it in her own right – until a rival of Bosco’s gives her a shot. Like the hip-hop saga “Empire”, the series is “satisfyingly soapy”; and the soundtrack is full of “certified bangers”.

The BBC announced “Champion” as part of a raft of shows that it said would “push the boundaries”, said Anita Singh in The Daily Telegraph. “This is TV code for ‘if you’re middle-aged and from Middle England, you won’t like it’.” Despite being older than its target audience and so “un-edgy that one of my greatest thrills is a scone and pot of tea in a John Lewis café”, I rather liked it. The performances are “excellent”; the drama’s portrayal of south London life seems authentic; and “you’ll be rooting for Vita from the start”.

“Ironically for a show about rap”, it is rather “let down by some verbose scripting, contrived plotting and lax pacing”, said Dan Einav in the Financial Times. “Repeated arguments and recriminations soon become wearing, while even quieter moments can suffer from characters spelling out obvious thoughts and emotions.” Still, it “comes alive whenever it brings the music to the fore”.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer