Imagine if Britain had lost the Second World War. If the Germans had won. If the Nazis occupied the majority of England and Wales. 

BBC1’s new Sunday night drama SS-GB does just this, in an adaptation of the 1978 alternative history novel by Len Deighton.

SS-GB is set in a disturbing paralell reality in 1941, in an England and Wales which are under Nazi occupation having lost the Battle of Britain. It focuses on British Detective Douglas Archer who is forced to work under the brutal SS in occupied London. 

There are pockets of resistance throughout Britain, but after a German pilot is murdered by a British Resistance fighter, tensions in London are higher than ever.

Archer is investigating a murder which drags him into a treacherous world where the stakes are as high as the ultimate outcome of the war.

The detective must deal with the following dilemma: Can he carry out his duty to defend law and order when he is working for the wrong side? And what is he willing to risk in the fight against fascism?

Sam Riley as Douglas Archer

British Detective Douglas Archer is forced to work under the brutal SS in occupied London. He can speak German, wears a trilby and smokes like a chimney.

“Archer has a young son. It’s very easy for people who don’t have children to resist the Occupation. But once you have a child – which I do in real life – it makes you ask whether you’d stick your neck out, or whether you would make sure your children are safe and hope it all blows over.” – Riley

Where do I recognise him from?

This is one of Riley’s first TV roles, after making several big film appearances. He played Ian Curtis in Control, the biopic of the Joy Division singer, and he was more recently in Maleficant alongside Angelina Jolie. You might have also seen him in On the Road and Brighton Rock.