CHRIS RYAN’S STRIKE BACK
[A brand new six part drama for Sky1 HD and Sky1 (Week 18 / 1-7 May)]
Starring Richard Armitage, Andrew Lincoln, Jodhi May and Orla Brady
High-octane drama explodes onto Sky1 HD and Sky1 with a brand new action-packed contemporary drama series based on the book by former SAS man CHRIS RYAN. Starring RICHARD ARMITAGE (Spooks, Robin Hood) and ANDREW LINCOLN (Teachers, This Life), CHRIS RYAN’S STRIKE BACK is a compelling story of betrayal, glory, atonement and revenge played out through the interlinking lives of two former soldiers: Hugh Collinson (Lincoln) and discharged veteran John Porter (Armitage).
Produced by the BAFTA award winning producers of WALLANDER and PRIME SUSPECT the six-part series features an impressive international cast that includes JODHI MAY (The Last Of The Mohicans), COLIN SALMON (Dr Who), SHELLEY CONN (Party Animals), DHAFER L’ABIDINE (Sex and The City 2), ORLA BRADY (Mistresses), SHAUN PARKES (Moses Jones), DAVID HAREWOOD (Mrs Mandela), TOBY STEPHENS (Jane Eyre) EWEN BREMNER (Trainspotting) and ALEXANDER SIDDIG (Star Trek:Deep Space Nine).
The first two episodes were written by JED MERCURIO (Bodies, Cardiac Arrest), the second two by JED MERCURIO and ALAN WHITING (Wire In The Blood, Kingdom) with the final two written by ROBERT MURPHY (Murder City, Rebus). Produced by ANDREW BENSON (Prime Suspect: The Final Act, Hornblower) the series was directed by DANIEL PERCIVAL (Place of Execution, The State Within) and EDWARD HALL (Spooks, Trial & Retribution).
Filmed on location in the epic landscapes of South Africa on 35mm film for a stunning HD image, the series promises to wow audiences with its cinematic proportions.
In three stand alone narratives based in Iraq, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Pakistan, dramatised over six one hour episodes, the stories interweave the dramatic politics of war with the personal demons of two very driven men: Collinson and Porter.
Episode one begins in 2003 as the military invasion of Iraq gets underway. John Porter leads a Special Forces Unit on a daring hostage rescue mission into the heart of Basra, culminating in a disastrous turn of events for him and Collinson. Porter bears the burden of guilt, with the repercussions haunting him for years. Then an unexpected opportunity presents itself for Porter to return to Iraq and redeem himself. After several years apart, Porter and Collinson’s lives are set to collide once again…
RICHARD ARMITAGE comments; “It’s an ambitious project for television. We’ve made three feature films on a TV budget and schedule. But the advantage of that is that these three feature films are linked together so you get a really interesting character arc through all episodes. American television is being brave and doing that at the moment, and this is stepping into that area.” [Thanks for noticing, baby. We're keeping a close eye on you as well];)
Best known as the one who got away in the Bravo Two Zero team CHRIS RYAN, now a prolific best-selling author, is acting as the series consultant and script advisor.
CHRIS RYAN comments on what it’s like to see his novels transferred to the screen: “It’s great. When you produce a novel it’s like a child and to see it put onto screen opens it up to a greater audience. I class myself as a storyteller now, and to tell that story on paper is a great privilege, then to see it on screen is even better.”
CHRIS RYAN’S STRIKE BACK was commissioned by ELAINE PYKE (The Take, Skellig, Colour of Magic), Head of Drama, Sky1/HD, Sky2, Sky3. ANDY HARRIES (The Queen, Wallander, The Damned Utd), Chief Executive, Left Bank Pictures and ELAINE PYKE are Executive Producers.
ANDY HARRIES, Chief Executive, Left Bank Pictures comments; “I was interested in developing a quality action series out of the UK because it’s something we don’t do very often, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t. I was keen to create on the small screen the high-octane excitement you get in the Bourne films. We’ve got a great tradition of SAS books and there’s a great interest in the SAS. Chris Ryan’s books are a very good basis for a series and I felt that there was an opening for a new, international, action series but with a British flavour. And Strike Back does this perfectly.”
CHRIS RYAN’S STRIKE BACK will air on Sky1 HD and Sky1 in May 2010 (Week 18 / 1-7 May).
The UK cast list is as follows:
Richard Armitage (Spooks, Robin Hood) John Porter
Andrew Lincoln Hugh Collinson
Jodhi May (The Last of The Mohicans, Emma) Layla Thompson
Colin Salmon James Middleton
Shelley Conn Danni Prendiville
Nicola Stephenson Diane Porter
Orla Brady (Mistresses, Shark) Katie Dartmouth
Of course, Jodhi May is the younger sister in LOTM:
My absolutely fav soundtrack and perhaps fav movie (with only a couple others in the running). Jodhi gave a splendid, sensitive portrayal of the understandably terrified young woman...
March 18 2003, 24 hours before the invasion of Iraq: John Porter (Armitage) leads a Special Forces unit on a mission to extract a hostage held by terrorists. Porter and his men are confronted by a young Iraqi boy, a potential suicide bomber and events take a tragic turn. Two of Porter’s comrades are killed and a third is left fighting for his life. Porter takes the blame and wracked with guilt he quits the army, his life falls apart.
Iraq 2010: British TV news journalist Katie Dartmouth (Brady) is kidnapped. Collinson (Lincoln), now Head of Section 20 British Military Intelligence recognises one of the kidnappers – it is the suicide bomber As’ad (Ali), now a young man. Begging to be involved in the rescue, and adamant that his knowledge is vital, Porter is reactivated. Danni Prendiville (Conn) helps Porter prepare for the mission.
Misjudging the terrorists’ motives, the British authorities offer money for Katie’s release. This insults The Sword Of Islam’s Hakim Al Nazeri (L’Abidine), resulting in a public show of Nazeri’s outrage. With Katie’s life hanging in the balance immediate action is taken, but the mission to save Katie ends in disaster.
Porter knows what he has to do. Alone, he sets out to retrace his steps and relocate the scene of that fateful night in 2003.
EPISODE TWO *Contains Spoilers*
Returning to the site of the 2003 hostage extraction and battling the memories of that disastrous night, Porter (Armitage) becomes the hostage taker. Capturing one of the terrorists, Porter engineers a move to where the kidnapped TV news journalist Katie Dartmouth (Brady) is being held.
Back at Section 20, the politics of the situation take hold: Collinson and SAS Commander Chris Pemberton (MacAninch) are over ruled by Whitehall, as James Middleton (Salmon) categorically denies their request to send in another SAS unit. Alone, the pair choose to ignore orders and another extraction team, led by Section 20 Operative Layla Thompson (May) sets out to rescue Porter and Katie.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, the situation escalates. At dawn Porter and Katie will be executed, Porter first and Katie second. At the last moment Al Nazeri (L’Abidine) switches the order of execution. Porter has to think on his feet and reconfigure his plan and Sword of Islam soldier As’ad (Ali) finds his loyalty tested.
A nail-biting desert chase ensues with Sword of Islam gunmen pursuing the escapees, whilst in the air a helicopter carrying Layla and the SAS team is in pursuit too. The rescue team spots Porter struggling to hold off the gunmen. A rescue gets underway but it’s not just Porter and Katie who want to be air-lifted to safety. Back at Section 20 on the satellite link to Layla, Collinson won’t give authorisation to extract the third person.
Back safely in the UK, Katie tells Porter that As’ad revealed that it was a soldier who killed his friends in 2003…
EPISODE THREE *Contains Spoilers*
Harare, Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe makes a live address at the National Assembly. As he leaves Mugabe is shot dead. Colonel Tshuma (Harewood) of Zimbabwe’s Secret Intelligence Service and his Elite Guards hunt for the perpetrators. A lone gunman, Felix Masuku (Parkes) is cornered – as an official fleet of black limousines sweeps by Masuku wonders if Mugabe is really dead?
Back in London, news reports state that Zimbabwean officials claim the British government is behind the assassination plot which resulted in the death of one of Mugabe’s body-doubles. Section 20 / Collinson (Lincoln) is tasked with making the problem go away and Porter (Armitage) is despatched to Zimbabwe, under the guise of a diamond dealer.
Arrested for smuggling, Porter is thrown into the same prison as Masuku. With the help of his fellow Section 20 Operative Layla (May), Porter engineers a prison break. However, the mission is placed in jeopardy when Layla rouses the suspicions of Tshuma.
Beyond the prison walls, driving a stolen get-away car Porter and Masuku put some distance between themselves and Tshuma / his Elite Guards. Stopping at a lonely deserted spot Porter is set to complete his mission and make Masuku disappear. However, with a gun to his head Masuku reveals who really hired him and Porter learns that he may not have been told the whole truth. He’s left wondering who he can trust…
EPISODE FOUR *Contains Spoilers*
Colonel Tshuma (Harewood) leads the hunt for Porter (Armitage) and Masuku (Parkes) as the fugitives attempt to rendezvous with Layla (May) and escape Zimbabwe. Porter informs Layla that Masuku was tasked by the British government with killing Mugabe and he is bringing him in. Back in London, at Section 20 the hunt is on for a double agent.
As the pair trek through the Zimbabwean bush, they try to stay one step ahead of Tshuma’s men. But Tshuma has a secret weapon, a bushman tracker. Cornered on a cliff’s edge, with a helicopter overhead Porter and Masuku know there’s only one way to go…
Porter and Masuku happen across an orphanage. The orphanage is used by bandits as a trading post for trafficking people across the border. Porter and Masuku feel obligated to liberate the terrorised orphanage. However, this allows Tshuma and his men to gain ground and under siege, with nowhere to run Porter and Masuku make a final stand.
Meanwhile, Collinson (Lincoln) has travelled to Africa to confront the double agent, who turns out to be someone already on the payroll. Later, with the help of South African Special Forces, Collinson leads an assault on the orphanage to get Porter out. However, Porter is anything but happy to see Collinson. And with Masuku unaccounted for Collinson wants to know where he is?
Back in the UK, Layla quizzes Porter about the ill-fated hostage extraction in 2003. Increasingly suspicious of Collinson, Layla is wary of the history and secrets between the two men. She needs to know which of them she can trust…and what happened on that stairwell in Basra?
EPISODE FIVE *Contains Spoilers*
Southern Helmand Province, Afghanistan: American forces engage with Taliban fighters. Heavily out-numbered and with more enemy approaching, they’re in desperate need of air support. On a hilltop a man types furiously on a laptop. As British air support arrives and a missile released, the Marines breathe a sigh of relief. But the typing becomes more hurried and the missile suddenly changes course, hitting the US troops. The computer hacker lets out a cheer of jubilation – he’s British.
Section 20, London: An investigation is launched into how British air support failed and it’s discovered that encryption codes were hacked into in the field. Evidence leads to a former missile guidance engineer, Gerald Baxter (Bremner) who served in Iraq but was dismissed, suffering with PTSD.
Collinson (Lincoln) sends Porter (Armitage) to Afghanistan to investigate. Posing as an arms dealer who can sell illegally gained ISAF missile codes, he is kidnapped by his contact and taken to meet Baxter. But the Americans locate them, attack the camp, capturing Porter and Baxter. Porter wants to know why the Americans want Baxter dead?
Escaping US Forces the pair head to Pakistan to meet Zahir Sharq (Siddig) the man Baxter claims is the future of Afghanistan, and will buy the ISAF missile codes from Porter. On arrival as Porter sets about doing the deal, Baxter gleefully demonstrates his loyalty to Sharq, exposing Porter’s true occupation – ‘a Special Forces Operative’.
But Baxter’s world is thrown into a spin, as he overhears a telephone conversation between his beloved leader, Sharq and an American, Frank Arlington (Stephens). Is Baxter set to be one of Sharq’s sacrifices?
EPISODE SIX *Contains Spoilers*
Collinson (Lincoln) meets US representative Frank Arlington (Stephens) in London. The Americans want the British government to apologise to the families of the Marines killed in the friendly fire missile incident. Collinson refuses to accept responsibility for a situation that the CIA created by using Baxter.
Back in Pakistan, Zahir Sharq (Siddig) is exploiting Baxter’s fragile mental state and playing ‘Russian Roulette’ with his and Porter’s lives. But in a moment of clarity, Baxter (Bremner) shoots one of Sharq’s guards and the two men escape.
In the UK, events surrounding the ill-fated 2003 hostage extraction start to become clear. Confronting Collinson, Layla (May) accuses him of wanting Porter (Armitage) dead to save his own skin and bury the truth about what happened in Basra in 2003.
Meanwhile, struggling to evade capture and under constant Taliban attack, Porter and Baxter finally make it to safety and the pair are united in jubilation - but will it last? It is now that Layla tells Porter that she has proof Collinson was responsible for his comrades being killed in 2003.
Collinson arrives in Afghanistan to meet Porter and prepares for a showdown. But Porter doesn’t want revenge, he only wants to clear his name and relieve the burden of guilt. As the pair recall that fateful night in 2003 Taliban forces launch an attack and what follows is a bloody and uneven battle from which few men would escape …