The Young Team: Writer's debut novel on Scottish gang culture to become new screen drama

A writer's debut novel on Scottish gang culture, which was based on his own experiences of growing up in Lanarkshire, is set to be turned into a major new screen drama.

Glasgow-based producers Synchronicity Films, who made the BBC psychological thriller The Cry with Jenna Coleman, have snapped up the rights to The Young Team by Lanarkshire-born author Graeme Armstrong

His writing has been compared to Irvine Welsh and Alan Warner since the book was published just over a year ago.

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The planned series will chart three years in the life of main character Azzy Williams as he navigates Scottish masculinity, gang violence, substance abuse, mental health, male suicide and murder, and fights to secure a better future for himself.

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Armstrong, 29, who will be a consultant on the series, fell into gang culture in Airdrie at the age of 13 and was expelled from school in his mid-teens.

However, after given a copy of Irvine Welsh's best-selling debut novel Trainspotting when he was 16, Armstrong started to study secretly while still involved in his gang and went on to study English and creative writing at Stirling University.

Synchronicity’s announcement hailed the book as a “visceral novel which gives a previously unheard voice to a group of young characters on the margins of post-industrial society”.

Graeme Armstrong's book is based on his experiences of growing up in Airdrie. Picture: Robin Farquhar-Thomson

Set in Airdrie’s housing schemes, the series is billed as an exploration of how “teenage boys become postcode warriors, amidst a violent booze and blades culture”.

It will be adapted by Scottish playwright and screenwriter Ben Tagoe, whose previous credits include Coronation Street, Eastenders and Casualty. Scottish director Adrian McDowell is also attached to the project.

Synchronicity founder Claire Mundell said: “Graeme’s novel vividly and honestly depicts the realities of life for a disenfranchised and much demonised section of working-class youth, young people on the margins of society who are too often under-served and misrepresented on screen.

“Scottish literature couldn’t be hotter right now and Graeme’s debut novel is another brilliant addition to the landscape, heralding an important new voice.

Graeme Armstrong's debut novel The Young Team was published just over a year ago.

"We’re thrilled to be working with Graeme, Ben and Adrian to collaborate on an authentic scripted adaptation of this seminal novel.”

Armstrong said: “I am absolutely buzzing to be working with Claire Mundell at Synchronicity and the team to develop The Young Team for the screen.

“Their understanding of the landscape, both geographical and cultural, has made for an exciting coming together of multiple talents.

"Ben Tagoe has first-hand understanding of the transition of UK youth culture from ‘80s terrace casuals and rave pioneers, into the new and darker world of Scottish young team gang culture.

Graeme Armstrong became involved with a local gang in Airdrie when he was 13.

"His experiences and voice are akin to my own. Already, there is a deep respect for this story, shared responsibility around working-class representation and the handling of important themes of gang violence, poverty, addiction and mental health.

"I cannot wait to see Synchronicity bring it to life. The Young Team is in very safe hands.”

McDowall said: “The Young Team is the most exciting debut novel that I’ve ever read.

"Graeme has created a raw, unflinching dissection of modern masculinity, brimming with honesty and humanity, painting vivid pictures of a rare slice of Scottish life, that seamlessly translates into everything I love about the televisual and cinematic experience. It’s a novel that demands to be adapted for the screen.”

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