Peacock Aims For The Future With Mark Rylance & 'The Undeclared War'


Fans of Wolf Hall will rejoice. While the wait continues for the delayed sequel based on Hilary Mantel's third novel The Mirror & The Light, the team has gotten the band back together for a project at U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 co-produced with NBCUniversal's Peacock. BAFTA winner Peter Kosminsky (The State) is teaming back up with Academy Award winner Mark Rylance (Dunkirk) for a brand new near-future series set in post-pandemic England, called The Undeclared War. Rylance will co-star alongside Simon Pegg (best known in the U.S. for the Star Trek and Mission Impossible franchises), who will be taking on a more serious role than American audiences are used to seeing. 

According to Deadline, the series, which revolves around a cyberattack on GCHQ that may or may not affect the Parliamentary elections, has been one Kosminsky's been working on for the last three years, with Channel 4 originally greenlighting pre-production in 2018 after charges of Russian meddling in both the 2016 presidential election and the Brexit vote. The series creator and head writer has been researching the hows and whys with intelligence experts in both the U.K. and U.S. to understand just how vulnerable these systems are to attack.

The series was initially conceived as a ten-part series. However, in light of streaming series favoring shorter episode counts to create larger budget projects, the new version will be six installments. Kosminsky wrote four of the six scripts with The Salisbury Poisonings creators Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson collaborating on the writing team.

Here's the synopsis:

The Undeclared War takes place in the post-pandemic world of 2024 against the backdrop of an upcoming British general election involving the U.K.'s first Black Conservative prime minister (Lester). It tracks a leading team of analysts at the heart of the U.K.'s NSA-style spy agency GCHQ as they attempt to ward off a cyber-attack on the country's electoral system. Pegg features as Danny Patrick, GCHQ's head of operations, while Rylance plays John Yeabsley, a GCHQ old hand, brought back into the fold to support former colleagues in combatting the heightened threat level.

Rylance and Pegg will co-star alongside an ensemble of actors, including Adrian Lester (Staged), Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Legends of Tomorrow), Alex Jennings (The Crown), and newcomer Hannah Khalique-Brown. In a statement, Kosminsky said of the project: "The series is based deep within the least-known arm of the U.K.'s intelligence infrastructure, GCHQ. The story we're now able to tell casts an extraordinary, revelatory light on the hot, undeclared war taking place right now in the world's newest and most invisible domain of conflict — cyber." 

Since the debut of Peacock, the NBCUniversal streaming service hasn't had much in the way of British TV shows, other than The Capture and being the short-lived sole home of Downton Abbey, while letting projects like The Gilded Age walk out the door to HBO Max. But that may be about to change. Following in the footsteps of Netflix and HBO Max, Peacock is looking across the pond to help round out its offerings, recently bringing over the 2021 Eurovision contest in its entirety. The Undeclared War marks a new phase in cross-pond co-pros and perhaps a new avenue for Anglophiles to get some of the best programming the U.K. has to offer.

The Undeclared War does not yet have a release date.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

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