An ex-soldier who may be guilty of a heinous crime – or may actually be a victim of a high-level conspiracy. A question mark over his innocence, both for the police and for viewers at home. Two main characters: one a working-class veteran, estranged from his beloved child’s mother and struggling to overcome the mental trauma of war; the other, a powerful and ambitious woman climbing the career ladder.
No, it’s not last year’s smash-hit drama Bodyguard, and these characters are not David Budd (Richard Madden) or Julia Montague MP (Keeley Hawes). What we’re actually talking about is the BBC’s new thriller The Capture with Holliday Grainger and Callum Turner, which feels somehow… familiar?
Turner stars as Shaun Emery, a British soldier whose conviction for killing a Taliban insurgent in cold blood is overturned on appeal when the video evidence turns out to be seriously flawed. But just after his release, he suddenly finds himself accused of another crime – and there’s CCTV which apparently proves he did it.
So is he guilty? Is he somehow innocent? And can you really trust what you see? Asking those questions (and more) is Grainger’s character DI Rachel Carey, an up-and-coming detective who cut her teeth in Counter Terrorism.
Despite the parallels, The Capture is far from a knock-off version of Bodyguard.
“We were well into prepping it when Bodyguard came out,” producer Derek Ritchie explained on set earlier in 2019, while executive producer Rosie Alison confirmed: “It was all commissioned before Bodyguard. Absolutely.”
Undeterred, they saw Bodyguard’s success as proof of an appetite for similar dramas. “I think they’re really different shows,” Ritchie argued, “but for those primetime audiences who love a conspiracy thriller, who love quite bold exciting characters, and who love really exciting new British talent, and all of that – we kind of tick all of those boxes really. I like to think we would pick up people who liked Bodyguard, coming to this.”
Just like Bodyguard, The Capture features some big action sequences filmed across London, or as Callum Turner put it: “There’s lots of falling from great heights and jumping out of moving cars.” But there will be no sex or romantic attraction between the two leads – and Turner told us he won’t be taking his top off (“it’s not that kind of show”).
The six-part drama is written by Ben Chanan, whose previous work includes Cyberbully (feat. Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams) and the documentary The Plot to Bring Down Britain’s Planes. Having engaged with issues around social media and terrorism and UK/US intelligence operations, Chanan has now given us a fictionalised story which taps right in to some of the big conversations of our times.
We all know that our country is covered with CCTV cameras tracking our every move. We know that facial recognition software is getting more and more sophisticated. We know that viral videos can spread instantly around the world. Frankly, by this point in 2019, this is just woven into the fabric of our everyday lives.
But some recent developments are even more unnerving. Take this photorealistic “fake Obama” created by academics using an AI video tool, with words put directly into his mouth; could this technology be used to smear political opponents and manipulate the truth? As “deepfakes” become more popular, will we ever be able to tell what’s real and what’s fake?
That’s not to say that the incriminating CCTV footage is definitely faked-up to frame Shaun for a crime he didn’t commit. “We’re certainly not saying whether Shaun is innocent or guilty, at this point,” Alison told us. But it does mean that we cannot take anything at face value – even the evidence right in front of our eyes.
The opening episode of The Capture is more of a slow burner than Bodyguard, which kicked things off with that attention-grabbing edge-of-your-seat train bomber sequence. Still: we have been promised a pacy conspiracy thriller full of unexpected twists – and this could turn out to be a very clever drama indeed.
The Capture begins on Tuesday 3rd September at 9pm on BBC1