What is the real-life story behind ITV’s factual drama Honour?

Honour is based on the real-life murder of Banaz Mahmod, who was killed on the orders of her own family.

Honour

ITV’s Honour is penned by screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes, and is based on the so-called ‘honour killing’ of Banaz Mahmod in 2006.

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Keeley Hawes leads the Honour cast as Detective Chief Inspector Caroline Goode, the real-life police detective who headed up the investigation into Banaz’s murder.

Here’s what you need to know about the real-life events that inspired Honour.

Who was Banaz Mahmod?

Honour
Buket Komfur (second left) as Banaz Mahmod in ITV’s Honour
ITV

Banaz Mahmod (played briefly in Honour by newcomer Buket Komur) was a 20-year-old Iraqi Kurdish woman from South London who was brutally murdered in 2006 in a so-called ‘honour killing’ on the orders of her father and uncle, after she left her abusive arranged marriage to be with another man.

Banaz’s boyfriend, Rahmat Sulemani (played by Moe Bar-El), reported her disappearance on 25th January 2006. Police began an investigation, and discovered that Banaz had previously gone to the police multiple times, even providing officers with the names of the men whom she believed were all ready to kill her. However, her allegations weren’t taken seriously at the time.

Rahmat, who testified for the prosecution in the trials related to Banaz’s murder, died by suicide in 2016, a decade after her death.

Who is DCI Caroline Goode?

Honour
Keeler Hawes as Caroline Goode in ITV’s Honour
ITV

DCI Caroline Goode, the former Scotland Yard detective portrayed by Keeley Hawes in Honour, led the investigation into Banaz’s disappearance and murder. She received the Queen’s Police Medal for her efforts. 

Speaking to RadioTimes.com and other press, Hawes said: “With something like this [Honour], we were all so mindful that we were dealing with real people – Banaz, Caroline, their families, everybody involved, the team – and so there is that element of course, and with this even more so, much more than probably anything I’ve ever worked on.

“The responsibility is huge, it’s huge. I felt it everyday, I felt it everyday since. I really have, it’s – I haven’t taken it lightly, and you know, you want to do the right thing by everyone involved because it is about those two women, and you want to give Banaz the utmost respect you know, and also by Caroline.”

She continued: “These are real people and it’s always going to be actually unimaginable what Banaz and her family have been through, and Caroline dedicated her life to this case.”

What happened in the police investigation into Banaz Mahmod’s death?

DCI Caroline Goode helmed the investigation after the case was taken over by the Metropolitan Police Homicide and Serious Crime Command.

Mohamad Marid Hama, who had previously threatened to kill Banaz and her boyfriend, was charged with murder in February 2006. He was covertly recorded in prison, bragging about the killing – those recordings, coupled with the phone records of Banaz’s family, were instrumental in the eventual recovery of Banaz’s remains in April of that year.

Banaz’s father, uncle, and three of her cousins were all later convicted of her murder. Two of Banaz’s cousins (Mohammed Saleh Ali and Omar Hussain) had fled to Iraq following the murder, and were eventually extradited to the UK.

Honour
Michael Jibson (left) as DS Stuart Reeves in ITV’s Honour
ITV

Asked about how closely Honour mirrors the real-life events it depicts, series star Michael Jibson (DS Stuart Reeves) exclusively told RadioTimes.com,  “In terms of the dramatic license that’s taken, like with anything, you have a whole pool of producers and experts looking into this, making sure first of all everything in the story is taken care of and honoured properly, and also tells the story that doesn’t in any way become negative towards the situation… Occasionally we’d ask questions but we all trusted our directors and producers.”

On the filming locations used, he said: “A lot of this story took place in South London and up in Birmingham in real life, whereas we filmed the majority of it in North London, just because that was where the production office was. There’s a great location in Watford that’s basically this disused office building – if you see any cop drama on TV at the moment, they film it there, because it’s just the perfect location to turn into police offices with sprawling corridors.”

Who is Bekhal Mahmod?

Bekhal Mahmod is Banaz’s older sister, who had run away from the family home prior to the events of the ITV drama Honour. She testified for the prosecution in the trial relating to her sister’s murder, and was placed into witness protection.

Honour
Rhianne Barreto as Bekhal in ITV’s Honour
ITV

Gwyneth Hughes, who spoke to Bekhal Mahmod for Honour, said: “I’m unable to meet [Bekhal], she’s in witness protection… She can call me. Ten minutes into this [press Q&A], she called me. I always know it’s her, because it says No Caller ID. 

“She watched last night and I’m very, very pleased to say that she thought it was great and she ‘cried a lot’, she said, and I said ‘Are you OK?’, she said ‘Yeah’, and I’m gonna talk to her as soon as this [press] session is over. She’s the most fantastic young woman, honestly, you’d be so proud to have any of these young women as your daughter.”

Honour airs over two nights on Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th September 2020 at 9pm on ITV – check out our Honour review to see what we thought. Check out what else is on with our TV Guide.

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Contact IKWRO Women’s Rights Organisation for more information about Honour Based Abuse.