SS-GB: your questions answered

Where did they shoot the series? Does Sam Riley really speak German? And where have I seen that kid before?

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Watching new BBC1 drama SS-GB and confused by what you’re seeing? Desperate to find answers about the cast, history and filming of the “alternate history” drama, with no idea where to turn?

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Well, never fear – because below, we might just have all the answers you seek…


Does Sam Riley really speak German?

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Yep, lead actor Riley (who plays collaborating detective Douglas Archer) is a dab hand when it comes to languages, with the Maleficent star speaking German fluently after spending years living in Berlin with his wife.

Accordingly he’s appeared in German-language roles before, including a children’s film called Robbi, Tobbi und das Fliewatüüt and thriller The Dark Valley.


Where else do I know him from?

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If you didn’t spot him in either of those German roles, we’ve assembled some more of his greatest TV and film roles here for your perusal.


How did they film all that Nazi imagery in London?

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If you’re wondering how you missed news stories about the BBC draping Nazi flags all over London during this series’ filming, you actually didn’t – the production instead opted to use CGI to create the flags and show war damage, as executive producer Sally Woodward Gentle explained to Radio Times this week.

“Our priority was being sensitive to the public when filming in London – so CGI was used for the swastikas,” she told us.


Was that the little kid from Taboo?

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He was indeed – Lord of the Rings star and motion-capture guru Andy Serkis’ son Louis (above right) seems to be having a bit of a moment, appearing as both the assumed son of Tom Hardy’s James Delaney in BBC1 period drama Taboo AND Dougie, the son of Sam Riley’s Douglas Archer in SS-GB. 

Basically, he’s owning the BBC1 weekend schedule at the moment.


How accurate is SS-GB to real history?

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Apart from the obvious differences – we’re not sure if you noticed, but in real life Germany didn’t win World War Two – SS-GB cleaves fairly closely to historical fact, with author Len Deighton basing many of the story details on real-life occupation plans drawn up by Nazi officials during the war.

You find out more about the real history behind SS-GB in our in-depth article here.


How does the TV series differ from the book?

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In the first episode the TV adaptation of SS-GB remains been pretty accurate to the original 1978 novel by Deighton, right down to the dialogue spoken by the characters. A few minor changes revolve around the ordering of events, though this is almost certainly due to the different demands of the TV medium versus those of a novel. 

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Though of course, as the series goes on, more changes might be afoot – this history continues to be rewritten, after all.