SOMETIMES the mystery and magic can lie in the “what if?”
In the case of new UK drama series the question posed – what if the Battle of Britain was lost? – is not only the unique jumping off point for the 1940s action, but the reason a curious Kate Bosworth signed on to the acclaimed BBC project.
In the “alternative facts” narrative, the Nazis have taken over most of England, a Sliding Doors scenario the writers explore over five fascinating episodes.
It is complex and compelling, familiar in the style and set design of other WWII dramas, only with one major dramatic twist. The Nazis have executed Churchill and captured the King, while the Queen and princesses have fled to New Zealand and a bombed Buckingham Palace stands draped in swastikas.
“We know the history, we know the tragedy, but what if history had taken a slight turn?,” Bosworth asks.
“We have this tragic history of the Second World War. So the idea of ‘What if the Nazis had won and infiltrated London? What would that have been like?’ is fascinating. Whenever you have scenarios like this, that are rooted in reality, it’s intriguing to people and terrifying as well. I liken it to a bullet whizzing by … you think, ‘How would that have played out?’”
Bosworth plays Barbara Barga, a journalist sent over by the paper to cover the story, who becomes entangled with Archer (Sam Riley), a Scotland Yard detective caught between the Nazi regime and the British resistance.
While the 34-year-old American researched the role and fashions of the era by watching 1940s films starring siren Lauren Bacall, her costar and the miniseries’ leading man described the noir style
as his “Humphrey Bogart moment”.
Previously averse to smallscreen jobs, Riley loved his first foray into TV, adapted by the writers of from a Len Deighton novel.
“When I read it I thought, ‘Hell, I’m in every scene – ooh great!’ My ego was elated,” Riley recalls with a laugh.
“Then after the first couple of weeks I was like, ‘Holy s---, this is actually more like hard work. This isn’t the reason I wanted to become an actor at all!’. It’s more demanding but I did love it. And it was nice, as my dad and my agent put it, to be in something people might actually watch.”