Updated October 24:
Official date and time for the premiere have been announced in the Week 45 Highlights section at Channel Four! Get the champagne on ice, replenish your popcorn with the fresh stuff, and set your DVRs!
Secret State 1/4
Gabriel Byrne, Douglas Hodge, Gina McKee, Charles Dance, Rupert Graves and Ruth Negga star in the four-part political drama written by Robert Jones (Lennon Naked) and directed by Ed Fraiman (The Philanthropist), which is inspired by Chris Mullin’s novel A Very British Coup. Deputy Prime Minister Tom Dawkins (Byrne) vows to take on the American petrochemical company Petrofex after a devastating accident on British soil. Following the suspicious death of the Prime Minister in a plane crash, Dawkins’ understated political ambitions are tested as heavyweights Ros Yelland (Sylvestra La Touzel) and Felix Durrell (Graves) vie for the top job, but neither appears to have justice for the victims at the forefront of their campaign.
Channel 4 UK has released a “press pack” for Secret State!
The series is set to air during the week of November 5 – 11. Stay tuned for the definite dates!
Newmark expands on the theme: “It is a classic story of one man against the system. In the UK, we tend to think of a coup as something that happens in less developed countries, or those with less stable governments. Rebooting the novel was a chance to explore the extraordinary notion of regime change through undemocratic forces in our own country, and how that might actually happen; or worse still, how that might be happening in a more insidious way right now, right beneath our noses.”
Key to the drama’s success, of course, was casting the right actor to play the heroic, principled politician at the heart of the story. “As soon as Gabriel Byrne’s name was mentioned, I did think that he had everything that this character needed – a sort of depth and a gravitas and a sort of soul that you believed in,” says Jones. “And the look of someone who’s lived a bit and knows the way of the world. His name, as soon as it was mentioned, seemed to tick all the boxes, really.” But there was a problem – he wasn’t available for the production dates.
Fortunately, the dates ended up shifting. Byrne professed to a keen interest in the project, remembering the original with great affection, and was very interested to read the scripts for the reboot. Director Ed Fraiman and Producer Johann Knobel conference called with the actor while he was home in New York. Fraiman then met him in London. “I wanted to convey the passion, vision and ambition I had for the project. And to invite him to join the team and collaborate with us. I told him that with Channel 4’s commission of Secret State we had a real opportunity to craft a political thriller that would not only be gripping and entertaining but one that could rally its audience as well.”
It worked. Byrne readily accepted. According to producer Johann Knobel, getting the rest of what is a hugely impressive cast was relatively straightforward. “Given the quality of the scripts and the fact that Gabriel Byrne wanted to come on board, the casting process was relatively easy, as is evidenced by the quality of the supporting cast.”