Anansi Boys: When is the Neil Gaiman series released? Who are the cast? Everything you need to know about the adaptation

Neil Gaiman’s joyous novel Anansi Boys, based on Caribbean and African tales, is coming to Prime Video with a cast including Malachi Kirby and Whoopi Goldberg.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 24 June 2022 - 3.29pm
Getty Neil Gaiman at a screening event for his TV series Good Omens

Neil Gaiman’s international best-selling novel Anansi Boys is being adapted into a six-episode limited series and coming to Prime Video.

With a creative team including Gaiman, Sir Lenny Henry, Douglas Mackinnon and Hanelle M. Culpepper, the beloved book is the latest Gaiman series to come to Prime Video, following the success of American Gods and Good Omens.

Here is everything you need to know about the Anansi Boys TV series...

When is Anansi Boys released?

Neil Gaiman confirmed in June 2022 that the series has finished filming but that it would take a year to complete the post-production work.

Fingers crossed, fans can expect to see the adaptation in 2023.

What is Anansi Boys about?

Anansi Boys follows Charlie Nancy, a young man who is used to being embarrassed by his estranged father. But when his father dies, Charlie discovers that his father was Anansi: trickster god of stories.

Artwork for Anansi Boys on Prime Video

He also learns that he has a brother, and that brother, Spider, is entering Charlie’s life, determined to make it more interesting but making it a lot more dangerous.

Anansi Boys is set throughout contemporary London and follows an exciting cast of characters in an epic story that stretches from the UK to Florida, the Caribbean, and the mythical World Before Time. The series is currently filming in Scotland.

A stand-alone story, not a sequel or spin-off of Gaiman's novel American Gods, the book was originally developed in conversation between Gaiman and Lenny Henry.

"Anansi Boys began around 1996, from a conversation I had with Lenny Henry about writing a story that was diverse and part of the culture that we both loved,” said Gaiman. 

"I wrote a novel, an (I hope) joyous and funny book about a dead god and his two sons, about birds and ghosts and beasts and cops, based on Caribbean and African tales.  It was my first number one New York Times bestseller and went on to become a beloved and award-winning book."

Who's in the Anansi Boys cast?

Actor Malachi Kirby Getty
Malachi Kirby who will play Charles Nancy and Spider
  • Malachi Kirby – Plays Charles Nancy and Spider
  • Whoopi Goldberg – Plays Bird Woman

She's the embodiment of birds, and not just beautiful, stately birds in flight. Anyone who's had a close encounter with a seagull knows that some birds are more dangerous than others, and Bird Woman is the most dangerous of them all. Long ago Anansi did her wrong - now may be her chance to turn the tables.

  • Hakeem Kae-Kazim – Plays Tiger

He's still angry with Anansi for stealing the stories, for making fun of him, and for coming out on top. Tiger (it’s the name of any Big Cat in the Caribbean) is a dangerous enemy to Anansi and all his bloodline.

  • Emmanuel Ighodaro - Plays Lion

He's proud and noble and has no time for Anansi.

  • Cecilia Noble - Plays Elephant

She's old and wise, and hates Anansi.

  • Ayanna Witter-Johnson – Plays Snake

She's beautiful and deadly and hates Anansi.

  • Don Gilet – Plays Monkey

He's terrified of Anansi, keen on food—particularly fruit—and has the attention span of, well, a monkey...

  • Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn - Plays Rosie Noah
  • Grace Saif – Plays Detective Constable Daisy Day
  • Jason Watkins - Plays Grahame Coats
  • Fiona Shaw – Plays Maeve Livingstone
  • CCH Pounder - Plays Mrs. Higgler
  • L. Scott Caldwell - Plays Mrs. Dunwiddy
  • Joy Richardson – Plays Mrs. Bustamonte
  • Lachele Carl - Plays Miss Noles
Whoopi Goldberg Getty

Malachi Kirby (Small Axe) will star in the leading roles of brothers Charles Nancy and Spider.

Charles Nancy is awkward, stressed, engaged to be married, and working at a job he hates for a man he hates. He is as normal as it is possible to be - at least until he learns that his father was a god, and that he has a magical brother he does not know about. 

Spider is that brother. Cocky, self-assured, magical, super-powered, utterly amoral, and perhaps a bit of a monster.

"Malachi Kirby is an actor of astonishing sensitivity, charm, and power," said Gaiman.

"We needed somebody who could bring us the humanity of Charlie and the godly dangerousness of Spider; who could play two very different characters and who could in many ways carry the show. We found Malachi, and I am so thrilled that we did. He's astonishing."

Kirby won Best Supporting Actor for Steve McQueen’s Small Axe at the 2021 Baftas. You may also have seen him in Devils season 2, My Name Is Leon and Stephen Graham movie Boiling Point.

Talking about the casting of Whoopi Goldberg, Gaiman said: "When I first conceived Anansi Boys, decades ago, I imagined Whoopi Goldberg as Bird Woman. I wasn't able to meet her until 2018, when she interviewed me with some of the Good Omens team at New York Comic Con.

"At which point she mentioned that she had just finished listening to Sir Lenny Henry's reading of Anansi Boys, and that it was one of her favourite books. Sometimes things feel planned and inevitable, and we are incredibly lucky. She's going to be scary."

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Who are the creators of Anansi Boys?

Gaiman has been planning the TV series for a decade, but said that the project needed a partner like Prime Video to "embrace our vision".

"I am thrilled that Sir Lenny Henry is one of our executive producers. He was there when it was conceived, he narrated the audiobook and he has kept the heart of the production true," added Gaiman.

"We are trying to make a new kind of show with Anansi Boys, and to break ground with it to make something that celebrates and rejoices in diversity both in front of and behind the camera.  I'm so thrilled it's happening and that people will be meeting Mr. Nancy, Charlie and Spider, the Bird Woman and the rest of them."

Producer Sir Lenny Henry said: "I've been a huge fan (and couch-sleeping friend) of Neil Gaiman’s for over 30 years and I have loved being a part of the Anansi Boys creative team.  I love that we’re going to have a suitably diverse cast and crew to tell this joyous story! What’s great is that the whole production is listening and ensuring that inclusion is happening and is being seen to be done."

Producer Douglas Mackinnon, who previously worked with Gaiman on Good Omens, sad: "I'm thrilled that we get to take the story of Anansi Boys from page to screen with the creative powers of Neil and Lenny, as well as an extraordinary group of other writers, directors, and a cast and crew of so many diverse perspectives alongside us.

"We'll be shooting in brand new studios in Scotland where we’ll have the most cutting-edge CGI technology in the world to make all the magic and wonder of Anansi Boys come to life."

Vernon Sanders, co-head of television at Amazon Studios, said: "No one can weave a story of fantasy, humor, and deep emotion quite like Neil Gaiman, and Anansi Boys is a funny, weird, wonderful ride. 

"We're so happy to have Neil, Lenny, and Douglas bring their vision for Anansi Boys to the screen for our Prime Video customers around the world."

Anansi Boys is coming to Prime Video.