BBC World Service Drama Explores Founding of Israel

Miriam And Youssef

An new ten-part podcast and radio drama series from the BBC World Service, Miriam And Youssef charts the turbulent decades leading up to the founding of Israel.

Miriam And Youssef is told from the viewpoints of two former neighbours: Miriam, a Jewish refugee who emigrates to Palestine, and Youssef, a Palestinian Arab. Set between 1917 and the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948, their lives are intertwined with real-life historical characters and events.

While Miriam is determined to make a home in this new land for herself and her fellow Jews, Youssef, the son of the leader of a local village, is offered work at the British Mandate offices. But as politics and religious forces swirl around them, the family and community loyalties and beliefs of these two hopeful young people are challenged. And as conflicts between Jews and Palestinians increase, both become involved with violent resistance movements. But the future is unpredictable. Might they both eventually find a way to live in peace?

Simon Pitts, Commissioning Editor, BBC World Service English, says: “This is a deeply human story of two young people full of ideals. They both have a need for home and for a place to feel rooted in. The history of the creation of Israel is a turbulent one and this drama series is about people caught up in events, sometimes out of their control, and is about people wrestling with their consciences. Miriam And Youssef is also a story of survival and about the very fragility of existence. Set against the backdrop of major events taking place around Jerusalem and across the world, this is big-scale drama for podcast and radio listeners.”

At the heart of the series is the city of Jerusalem, seen during the three decades of the British Mandate. The drama also features real-life figures including David Ben-Gurion, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and American intellectual Rabbi Judah Magnes, whose lives intersect with the core fictional characters.

From the team behind The Fall Of The Shah, Miriam And Youssef is by acclaimed writer Steve Waters.

A podcast-only preview episode for Miriam And Youssef will be released on 22 April, and it will then launch as a weekly podcast and series on the BBC World Service beginning Wednesday 29 April.

The artwork for Miriam and Youssef is designed by ADISH, the Israeli-Palestinian fashion brand based in Tel Aviv and Ramallah.

Miriam And Youssef Cast

• Miriam Cohen, Immigrant from Poland… Shani Erez
• Youssef Bannourah, Resident of Deir Yassin… Amir el Masry
• Harry Lister, British Civil Servant… Blake Ritson
• Yehoshua, Husband of Miriam… Philip Arditti
• David Ben Gurion, First Israeli Prime Minister… Elliot Levey
• Hajj Amin al-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem… Dana Haqjoo
• Musa Alami, Palestinian thinker and activist… Sargon Yelda
• Menachem Begin, Sixth Prime Minister of Israel… Daniel Rabin
• Judah Leon Magnes, American Rabbi… Neil McAll