Page last updated at 10:47 GMT, Friday, 4 September 2009 11:47 UK

Wire actor Elba joins BBC drama

Idris Elba
Elba says he had to go to America to start getting lead roles

Idris Elba, who played drug dealer Stringer Bell in US TV series The Wire, is to star in a BBC drama about a detective who is "simmering with rage".

London-born Elba will take the lead role in the six-part psychological drama, called Luther.

His casting comes just months after he complained about the lack of TV roles for black actors in Britain.

The show will be scripted by Neil Cross, who was the lead writer on the last two series of Spooks.

Viewers will know the identity of the killer from the start of each episode, allowing the psychological cat-and-mouse game between detective and criminal to become the focus of the drama.

'Edge of madness'

According to the BBC, Elba's character, John Luther, is "a near-genius murder detective whose brilliant mind can't always save him from the dangerous violence of his passions".

In a statement, Elba said: "He's a challenging and exciting character because he's so complex.

"While he's capable of great kindness and loyalty, sometimes he steps over the edge of madness - simmering with anger and rage."

The 36-year-old, who previously had roles in BBC dramas Dangerfield and Silent Witness, has been critical of British TV in the past.

"Unlike here, in the US there are lead roles for black actors," he told the Guardian newspaper in May.

"That's why I went to America - to get the lead roles that I wouldn't here."

Elba has recently starred alongside Beyonce in the Hollywood thriller Obsessed and had a recurring guest role in the US version of sitcom The Office.

Luther will be shown on BBC One in 2010.

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