C4 commissions Baghdad Central, a crime thriller set in a fallen city based on Elliot Colla's novel

Baghdad, 2003. Saddam has fallen and Baghdad lies at the centre of the coalition’s efforts to secure the region. Political insurgents battle, while the occupying forces seek to make the impossible possible – with no plan of how to achieve it. Baghdad Central is a brand new 6-part crime thriller from BAFTA nominated writer Stephen Butchard (The Last Kingdom, House of Saddam) based on the novel by Elliott Colla.

In the midst of the chaos, crime and paranoia, Muhsin al-Khafaji’s an Iraqi ex-policeman has lost his home, his wife and his career and is battling to keep himself and his ailing daughter safe. When his desperate brother in-law asks him to help find his missing niece, Khafaji’s sense of love and duty force him to accept the task. But it quickly becomes clear that his enquiries are not welcome at the university where she studied, or in the occupying force’s Green Zone where she claimed to work as a translator. Khafaji and his daughter, Mrouj, are soon convinced there is more to discover than just a missing person.

Stephen Butchard, writer, says: “For me, this is a story of the strength of ordinary men and women who, in the face of incredible trauma and hardship, keep taking on life one step at a time. Fuelled by love for friends and family the unbearable is not only made bearable, but conquered. It is a story of survival and the quest for hope… told through the universal prism of a fathers’ love for his daughter.”

When Khafaji is arrested and tortured by US forces in a case of mistaken identity, he meets British ex-police officer Frank Citrone who makes an offer he can’t refuse – medical supplies and safety for his daughter – in return for his skills as a police officer in the Green Zone.

In Baghdad Central, Stephen Butchard has created a powerfully authentic and gripping thriller, shot through with warmth and humanity, which not only brings vividly to life the tumult of wartime Iraq but is also an edge-of-the-seat tale of suspense involving murder, deceit, intrigue and political treachery.

Beth Willis, Channel 4 Head of Drama, says: “We are thrilled to be working with Euston Films and Stephen Butchard in this powerful, pertinent and poetic drama – a gripping thriller with contemporary resonance at every turn. Stephen has created the perfect modern reluctant hero in Inspector Khafaji – a stubborn, wry and brilliant policeman whose love of his daughter and sense of humanity knows no bounds.”

Kate Harwood, Managing Director Euston Films and Executive Producer, says: “'We were pleased to find in Elliott Colla's mesmerising novel a truly original source for the inspirational Stephen Butchard to build a drama set in Baghdad, when it was the pivot of world history. Khafaji, the wry, pragmatic cop who is forced to collaborate with the Coalition forces to save his daughter's life, becomes a hero for the modern age in a fresh take on this post conflict world.”

Baghdad Central (6x60) was commissioned for Channel 4 by Beth Willis, Head of Drama. Manpreet Dosanjh and Matthew Wilson are Commissioning Executives for Channel 4. Filming will commence in 2018 with the series scheduled to air on Channel 4 later that year. The series is produced by Euston Films (part of FremantleMedia UK). Kate Harwood is executive producer, Jonathan Curling (The Secret) producer, with director and full cast to be announced at a later date. FremantleMedia International will act as the global distributor for the series.


Notes to Editors:

Euston Films (part of FremantleMedia UK) is a prestige label with an international reputation for ground-breaking, iconic drama. Relaunched in Autumn 2014, Kate Harwood is Managing Director and Noemi Spanos is Creative Director. In January 2017, Euston North was launched – headed up by Hilary Martin and Simon Judd as Head of Development - with the aim of establishing a production powerhouse in the North. Euston Films is currently in production with Hard Sun (Neil Cross) for BBC One and has a number of high-profile projects on its slate, including the adaptation of Tana French’s best-selling murder mystery series set in a fictional Dublin Murder Squad.

July 7, 2017 5:38am ET by Channel 4  

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