×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Peter Kosminsky on Nat Geo ISIS Series: It Would Be ‘Easier’ to Make ‘Game of Thrones’

Peter Kosminsky said his upcoming drama “The State” sheds new light on what happens when westerners go to join ISIS, and added that while he has no problem with escapist programming, TV is a powerful tool with which to address social issues, in this case the experiences of radicalized youngsters travelling to Syria.

“These are not easy issues and they do open us as commissioners, producers and writers and directors to criticism; it would be a lot easier to make episodes of ‘Game of Thrones,’” Kosminsky said at a London screening of “The State,” which he wrote and directed. “But I personally believe television is an immensely powerful medium and it should be used to hold a mirror up to society, and society is in a pretty dark place at the moment.”

“The State” will run over four nights on Channel 4 in the U.K. this month, and over two on National Geographic in the U.S. in September. “There is no other depiction, certainly in drama, of what happens to young British Muslims when they arrive in Islamic state,” Kosminsky said at the screening, at which the series was warmly received.

The four-hour show is a co-production between Channel 4 and National Geographic, and Fox Networks Group Content Distribution is handling sales, with Canal+ in France an early buyer.

Kosminksy and his team spent 18 months researching the series, a process that included speaking to people who had returned from the Islamic State and who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In the wake of the controversy over HBO’s alternate reality slavery project, “Confederate,” and Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit,” the “Wolf Hall” director was asked whether, as a white filmmaker, he was the right person to tell the story of young non-white Muslims travelling to Syria.

“I think that’s a very fair question,” he said. “The weird thing about being people like me is we’re generalists. We move from subject to subject, and for a brief time become moderately expert on that subject. Prior to doing this I became moderately expert on Henry VIII and what was going on in Tudor England.”

“The State” focuses on four British protagonists, but also features other Westerners who have traveled to join ISIS from elsewhere in Europe. Cast members said the show is likely to received differently in the U.K. to the U.S.

Sam Otto, whose character, Jalal, is following in the footsteps of his older brother in going to fight for ISIS, said: “There is less, perhaps, of an emotional investment for Americans right now than there is in Britain. When we spoke to people in America it felt like ‘that’s quite interesting’ as opposed to here, where it touches a nerve.”

Ony Uhiara plays Shakira, a young British-trained doctor travelling to Syria with her 9-year-old son, and she said that the issues are less close to home for U.S. viewers.

“In light of what Ony and Sam have said the support of National Geographic is even more extraordinary.” Kosminsky said. “If they had not come on board with the funding this show would not have been made. Channel 4 have put huge energy behind it, but in this day and age it very hard for a broadcaster to fully find something as complicated as this.”

More TV

  • Daily Show Viacom

    Viacom, DirecTV Carriage Renewal Talks Continue as Blackout Looms

    UPDATED: Viacom and DirecTV executives are going down to the wire tonight on a combative contract renewal negotiation with high stakes for both sides. Talks were still going after the midnight ET deadline passed and the channels remain up on DirecTV. A team of Viacom executives led by Tom Gorke, exec VP and head of distribution [...]

  • ABBY'S -- "Pilot" Episode 101 --

    TV Review: 'Abby's' Starring Natalie Morales

    “Abby’s,” NBC’s new comedy about a cranky bartender (Natalie Morales) and her inner circle of regulars, is aware of the inevitable “Cheers” comparisons. Created by “New Girl” writer Josh Malmuth and executive produced by uber-producer (and unabashed “Cheers” superfan) Mike Schur, “Abby’s” therefore makes a few key choices in order to differentiate itself as its [...]

  • Ryan Murphy Walk of Fame

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Sets Premiere Date for Ryan Murphy's 'The Politician'

    In today’s roundup, Netflix announces the premiere date for Ryan Murphy’s “The Politician” series, and Kristin Cavallari will host “Paradise Hotel” on Fox.  DATES Reality star Kristin Cavallari will host Fox’s reboot of “Paradise Hotel,” an unscripted dating show in which a group of singles will check into a tropical resort and compete to check [...]

  • 'Selling Sunset': Producer Behind Netflix's First

    'Selling Sunset': Producer Behind Netflix's First Docusoap on the State of Reality TV

    Netflix crossed another unscripted threshold on Friday with the launch of “Selling Sunset,” an 8-episode series that follows a group of real estate agents on the Sunset Strip. The show is believed to be the streaming service’s first docusoap, the now-ubiquitous format first popularized in the early 2000s by shows like MTV’s “Laguna Beach” and [...]

  • Discovery CEO David Zaslav Sees 2018

    Discovery CEO David Zaslav Sees 2018 Compensation Soar to $129.4 Million

    Discovery Inc. president-CEO David Zaslav is once again making headlines for an enormous compensation package. Zaslav’s 2018 compensation soared to $129.44 million in 2018, fueled by stock options and grants awarded as the longtime Discovery chief signed a new employment contract last July that takes him through 2023 at the cable programming group. Zaslav received [...]

  • 'Supernatural' to End After Season 15

    'Supernatural' to End After Season 15 on The CW

    “Supernatural” is ending after 15 seasons. Series stars Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, and Misha Collins made the announcement in a video posted on Instagram on Friday. “We just told the crew that even though we’re very excited to be moving into our 15th season, it will be our last,” Ackles said. “15 years of a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content