Peacock's first British shows when it launched, The Capture and Intelligence, were shows set in GCHQ and the world of cyber warfare. Though the streamer's launch schedule was severely hobbled by pandemic and lockdown filming delays, as it rounds into Year 3, Peacock is finally beginning to follow up on with more shows in that vein. Trigger Point, which premiered in July 2022, had the driving thriller aspect in the Line Of Duty style. The new series for August, The Undeclared War, takes the streaming service back into the world of cyber thrillers.
The series, which just finished airing on Channel 4 at the beginning of August, hails from Peter Kosminsky, the same writer and director behind PBS favorite Wolf Hall, the adaptation of Hilary Mantel's novel of the same name. Kosminsky began working on it five years ago, in 2017, setting the U.K.-Russia cyber showdown in 2024, thinking it was far enough into the future to feel far away. But delays introduction (not to mention the pandemic shut down) has accidentally turned the story into something much closer to a "five minutes from now" thriller, and one that is far more timely than planned.
When recently asked about it by Variety, Kosminsky pointed out that just because the war has become on the ground instead of in cyberspace doesn't change the point of the series, just that the audience can no longer ignore the reality the show is based in. "[W]e've been at loggerheads with each other in an active hot war in the cyber domain for years and years, going back to the very origins of viruses and malware, as we now understand it," Kosminsky explained. "So yeah, on one level, the world's changed completely. On another level, it hasn't changed at all."
Here's the show's synopsis:
Set in a post-pandemic 2024 in the run-up to a British general election, a leading team of analysts buried in the heart of GCHQ secretly works to ward off a cyberattack on the country’s electoral system. Saara Parvan is a young student getting work experience in the malware department when a security breach leads to a high-stakes first day at the office. She’s quickly thrust into the center of an escalating data war with Russia that has dangerous implications extending far beyond cyberspace.
The series stars Hannah Khalique-Brown (Muse) as Saara, the intern and character who serves as the entry into this world of cyberwarfare for the audience. She's surrounded by a list of A-list British talent, including Kosminsky favorite Mark Rylance, who starred in Wolf Hall. Simon Pegg also headlines the project and will probably be the actor most recognizable to American viewers due to his big screen roles in the Star Trek reboot and the Mission: Impossible series. Adrian Lester (Mary Queen of Scots), Alex Jennings (Victoria), Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Legends of Tomorrow), Edward Holcroft (The English Game), and Kerry Godliman (Whitstable Pearl) round out the cast.
The Undeclared War premieres on Peacock with all six episodes on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022.