BBC Two drama event marks 10 Days To War
A leading cast including Kenneth Branagh, Harriet Walter, Art Malik and Toby Jones feature in an innovative series of short dramas to mark the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq – in the first collaboration of its kind between BBC Vision and BBC News.
In March 2003, war with Iraq was imminent, its justification and legality disputed. 10 Days To War tells the story of the countdown to the war and the lead up to military action.
Part thriller, part political drama, each film will focus around the events that happened that very day five years ago.
It is a unique undertaking made for the digital generation that will see the mini-films screened first in the Newsnight slot on BBC Two from 10 to 19 March and then promoted on a variety of digital outlets including BBC iPlayer, BBC Drama online, the BBC's YouTube channel and BBC Four.
The television event is a –Think Big– project, an initiative set up by Jana Bennett, Director, BBC Vision, to create innovative multi-platform content.
At times revelatory, at others exploratory, these ground-breaking 10 to 12-minute films will paint a portrait of the behind-the-scenes struggle to unite the contradictory politics and personalities of a highly controversial period of recent history.
The films will tell the story of the hunt for weapons of mass destruction, saving the reputation of the United Nations, the battle with political conscience, the plans for reconstruction and the final countdown to war.
The dramas come from renowned writer Ronan Bennett (The Hamburg Cell, Face) and are executive produced by Colin Barr (The Secretary Who Stole £4million, Maxwell).
Roly Keating, Controller of BBC Two, said: "This is a challenging and original way of exploring one of the most controversial moments in recent British history. By broadcasting daily we hope audiences will be able to recapture that exciting sense of huge events unfolding unpredictably in real time."
Writer Ronan Bennett said: "We won't exploit retrospect or hindsight: each film will tell the story as it was known then to the people it most affected."
Peter Barron, Newsnight Editor, added: "The story our viewers have wanted us to revisit more than any other is the run up to the war in Iraq in 2003. This dramatisation gives us the opportunity to explore the issues and arguments in a way traditional documentary couldn't. We then plan to question the real players about the events of 2003 on Newsnight."
Kenneth Branagh features in the last of the films as Colonel Tim Collins, of the Royal Irish Regiment, whose rousing speech to British soldiers hours before they entered into battle in Iraq made headlines around the world. The drama follows him as he prepares to cross the border into Iraq.
In another film two Labour MPs battle with loyalty and personal conscience, not to mention the whip, in the crucial House of Commons vote on the war.
Full casting and synopsis is to be announced at a later date.
Filming is now under way in Jordan.