OCCUPATION Coming to BBC America Fall 20009

Warren Brown and James Nesbitt in Occupation

[Press Release – Released by BBC America]

Occupation is a searingly powerful drama that captures the lives of three British soldiers caught physically and emotionally in the cross-fire of the Iraq war. Described by one critic as “one of the very best British dramas of the decade,” it’s written by Peter Bowker, writer of the Golden Globe nominated Viva Blackpool and produced by the makers of Life on Mars and MI-5. Occupation premieres Sunday, October 18, 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on BBC AMERICA.

Having participated in the invasion, and helped fly a critically injured child from Basra to a UK hospital, three soldiers find it impossible to slot back into civilian life. Driven by very different motives – each heads back to Basra. Sergeant Mike Swift (James Nesbitt, Five Minutes of Heaven, Jekyll) returns for the love of an Iraqi doctor, Aliyah (Lubna Azabal). Corporal Danny Peterson (Stephen Graham, Public Enemies, This Is England) returns for money, setting up a private security firm. Lance Corporal Lee Hibbs (Warren Brown, Shameless) returns because he passionately believes in the mission to rebuild the country and help the Iraqi people – and the mission is nowhere near accomplished. Amid growing sectarian conflict, and a boom time fuelled by billions of dollars from the U.S., their dreams of riches, love and making a difference come to define not just their lives but also the occupation itself.

As months turn into years, their lives move in directions they could have never imagined. Mike’s marriage falls apart as he pursues a love affair with an Iraqi doctor, who is now obliged to work within the country’s new religious framework at the hospital. Hibbs is deeply affected by the murder of his closest Iraqi friend, and begins to psychologically unravel. Mercenary Danny’s blatant exploitation of the situation leads to even more corruption and chaos. Occupation unveils a tale of wasted billions, lost lives, corporate greed, and a war that has left many questions unanswered.

Writer Peter Bowker talks about the challenge of writing about a war that has been reported on nightly for over five years, “Drama can press the pause button on this tide of information. It can invite us to follow the story of just a few people, and it can ask questions we all relate to – the most important of which is, ‘What would I do, faced with the same set of choices?’ Here we have a historical situation of epic proportions and the challenge is to make it human and particular.”

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