James Cosmo

SS-GB E1 (BBC One)

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ss-gbA few weeks ago, while reviewing Amazon’s The Man In The High Castle, I confessed to a particular weakness for ‘alternative history’ fiction. one example of the genre that I failed to cite at the time was Len Deighton’s 1978 novel SS-GB for the simple reason that despite having owned a copy of the paperback for 25 years, I’d inexplicably – and inexcusably – failed to actually get around to reading it until only a few weeks ago, finishing just in time for the start of this new BBC adaptation that started at the weekend.

Like The Man In The High Castle and Fatherland, Deighton’s story postulates a world in which the Nazis win the Second World War. However while those other stories are set several years later in the 1960s, SS-GB takes place in 1941 only months after Britain has lost the aerial battle and been forced to capitulate to the Nazi invaders. The first scene of the television version sees a Spitfire land on the Mall in London in the shadow of the bombed-out shell of Buckingham Palace, with swastikas plastered on every building as the subservient British people scurry about their business beneath the harsh gaze of their new masters. Read the rest of this entry »

The Nightmare Man (1981) (BBC)

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I dimly remember watching this four-part thriller when it originally aired on the BBC in May 1981. While the details were long lost in the mists of time, I did recall the red-hued ‘monster’ point-of-view scenes as having made quite an impact on me at the time. The show has never been repeated but has been out on DVD for a while now, so when my memory was jogged about it I was keen to pick up a copy.

Based on the novel Child of Vodyanoi by David Wiltshire and adapted by Doctor Who stalwart Robert Holmes, the story begins with a violent killing on a small Scottish island. Initially the local police (Maurice Roëves and Game of Thrones’ James Cosmo) assume they’re after a psychopath, but as the casualties mount it’s clear that the nature of the injuries defy normal explanation. A strange craft on the beach and high levels of radiation start to make the islanders wonder whether some extraterrestrial monster is loose, and the problem is compounded by a thick fog bank meaning help can’t get to them from the mainland – even before someone cuts the telephone lines… Read the rest of this entry »