Is The Tourist based on a true story?

Jamie Dornan stars in this six-part thriller as a mysterious man with amnesia – but is it inspired by real-life events?

Danielle MacDonald in The Tourist

Since arriving on BBC One on New Year’s Day, The Tourist has completely hooked viewers with The Man’s (Jamie Dornan) search for his identity across the hot Australian Outback.


From tense car chases and police corruption, to big explosions and love affairs, this six-part thriller is full of mysteries (all of which are answered by The Tourist ending) and a star-studded cast – but now fans are wondering whether The Man’s story is based on true events.

Here’s everything you need to know about whether The Tourist is inspired by real-life accounts and how creators Jack and Harry Williams came up with the series.

Is the Tourist based on a true story?

Genevieve Lemon in The Tourist
BBC/Two Brothers Pictures/Ian Routledge

While the chaos of The Tourist seems stranger than fiction, the BBC One show is not based on a true story.

In fact, the drama’s creators – brothers Harry and Jack Williams – spoke to in an exclusive interview about how they came up with the concept, explaining how they wanted to tackle a thriller with a comedic tone.

“Historically, me and Jack have mainly done pretty dark thrillers, very serious, grim subjects and we’re not grim people and we wanted to do something a bit different and tonally steer away from what we’ve been doing thus far,” Harry said.

“The idea of doing something with a comedic tone really appealed to us. So that’s when we started talking, and this idea fell into place after saying let’s explore that territory.

“We talked about doing the existential thriller. The idea of someone trying to figure out who they are and somebody losing their memory, that felt like that way to go with it.”

Jack added that they came up with the show’s opening sequence first and then worked out the rest of the story from that point onwards.

“We had the beginning before we had much else. I think we worked out this opening and the chase and this guy having an accident and then we went, ‘Oh, what if he doesn’t know who he is?’

“There’s so much about that that’s interesting and suggests so many avenues. But as we said, we had those 10 pages for a long time and kept saying it to people and they’d keep going, ‘Great – what happens next?’ And we didn’t know.

“So that was interesting too – just started with an image and a character and a sense of place, and then built it out from there.”

As for why they wanted to set the show Down Under, Harry said that the Outback’s “vast expansive emptiness” felt fitting for the memory-loss drama.

“There were times when we discussed America and other places, but no, the initial script was always Australia just because it felt so apposite to the character in the show and the setting,” Jack added.


The Tourist is available to stream on BBC iPlayer. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide or visit our Drama hub for more news, interviews and features.