BBC to mark Iraq war anniversary

Docudramas commissioned

LONDON — The BBC is to mark the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion with a series of mini-drama-documentaries charting the countdown to war.

Kenneth Branagh, Harriet Walter and Art Malik will star in “10 Days to War,” a unique collaboration between BBC Vision, factual and flagship public affairs show “Newsnight,” which aims to mirror events on the very day they happened five years ago.

The 10 to 12 minute films will air between March 10 and 19 on BBC2, whose controller Roly Keating described the initiative as “the most schedule-testing thing” he has ever been involved with. “I have no idea if this will work,” he admitted to media scribes at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch.

Branagh will play Colonel Tim Collins, the British Army officer who famously said: “We go to liberate not to conquer… if you are ferocious in battle remember to be magnanimous in victory,” as his troops prepared for battle in March 2003.

Keating said he did not know who would be cast as Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister who in the face of widespread public unease took the Brits to war in Iraq in support of the U.S.

“10 Days to War,” is scripted by Ronan Bennett and has started location work in Jordan.

Keating, who is acting controller of sister web BBC1, also announced another high-profile drama project being undertaken by the pubcaster — a soap-style adaptation of Dickens’ “Little Dorrit,” which the corp. hopes will repeat the success of its similar recent treatment of “Bleak House.”

It is written by Andrew Davies, who scripted “Bleak House,” and will air on BBC1 in the U.K.