BBC thriller Informer will not “glamorise” or “sensationalise” the truth about the fight against terrorism in London, according to the show’s stars and creators.
Starring Paddy Considine as veteran Counter-Terrorism officer DS Gabe Waters and Bel Powley as Gabe’s brand-new partner DC Holly Morten, the six-part drama follows a young British-Pakistani man who is coerced into become an counter-terrorism informant.
Lead character Raza Shar (Nabhaan Rizwan), a young British-Pakistani man living in East London, becomes the titular ‘informer’ following a meeting with Gabe – despite having absolutely no involvement in terrorism.
Ahead of the series premiere, Powley says, “I think it’s just important that it’s about what’s happening in London now, rather than it being us looking at it through a veneer, like a sensationalised, glamorised War on Terror.”
“It’s about humans, and humanity, and people who are living in this city right now, and how they’re existing – and their relationships with each other and their relationships with politics,” she says.
Rizwan later adds: “I think it’s not sensationalising any of those aspects.”
“It’s an antidote of sorts to the flagship, glamorous Homeland-style War on Terror TV show,”director Jonny Campbell says. “Informer unplugs that high octane, overexcited story which the subject matter tends to attract and makes it more earthy, full of humour and warmth.”
Recent dramas Next of Kin and The State have also put the spotlight on homegrown Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists.
But the team behind Informer are keen to emphasise that the core of the drama is less about terrorism and radicalisation, and more about identity and relationships.
“It’s inevitable that a series like Informer needs to be dramatic, it’s inherent in the concept,” says Campbell. “However, we don’t play fast and loose with terror or with fear and tension.
“It does the complete opposite, because we put a character in the centre of it all. The show educates us about understanding the complexities of people and that there isn’t a quick fix to the problem. In turn that should empower people to not be afraid. Following Raza’s predicament and telling the story from his perspective does the complete opposite of exasperating or playing to people’s fears.”
Rory Haines and Sohrab Noshirvani, who created and co-wrote the drama, say they were also careful in their research in order to keep the show grounded in reality.
“We really worked hard as much as we could to not sensationalise, so everything that is in the show comes from somewhere, some perspective,” Haines says. “Of course we can’t walk down into counter-terrorism offices – we did ask. That doesn’t happen, but we had lots of police consultants on the show and people we talked to from many different levels of the policing world.
“One of the things that was really fascinating was, quite often they were completely contrary: oh no it would never happen like this, or it would always happen like this, so it was always fun to try and figure out what the truth was.”
Informer begins on Tuesday 16th October at 9pm on BBC1