Monday, 17 March 2014

FIRST LOOK: Get ready for 876 Undercover, a fresh take on cops in the community

TO SERVE AND PROTECT: A promotional image for the upcoming Jamaican TV series.

With reports of corruption and police brutality at an all-time high in the mainstream media, the Jamaica Constabulary Force could use some positive press and moral support. That's where 876 Undercover comes in. It's a buzzworthy TV drama series set to premiere in June, and is aimed at shining the spotlight on positive law enforcement.

"We wanted to do something that shows excellent drama for television but also shows the Jamaican police in a more positive light," explains showrunner and director Keith Anthony Ellis, who is teaming with writer Walric Peddie to get the production off the ground.

Editing on the project has just been completed and negotiations with one of the local stations are pending. Still, the creative crew intends to bring the show to living rooms before the summer arrives. "We want to suggest to the Jamaican community that there is another way of policing, and to encourage the police with an emphasis on the concept of right winning over might."

Though he's been getting comfy in the director's chair of late, Ellis has proven himself a vivid playwright whose latest work, the faith-based drama Friends Forever, recently opened to largely positive reviews at the Green Gables Theatre in Kingston. Now, with the play about to pick up steam (following a bit of nip and tuck) and 876 Undercover ready for the world, one gets the feeling that we will be seeing and hearing much more from Ellis. "At present, I'm doing quite a bit of writing not just for the theatre but also film," he tells TALLAWAH. "And a lot of that will be coming out in a short while."

A stalwart gentleman who effortlessly exudes a patriarchal aura, Ellis says it's absolutely thrilling to be working in the arts at this time. "I'm excited about the business of getting an opportunity to present my work in a way in which I want to do it," says the 51-year-old writer-director-producer who has toiled for years with small theatrical groups in and around Kingston. "Doing conventional plays with strong messages without being preachy."

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