Peter Kosminsky

Peter Kosminsky’s drama The Undeclared War explores a catastrophe waiting to happen

The Undeclared War (credit: Channel 4)

‘Because it’s terrifying,” was Peter Kosminsky’s no-holds-barred answer when I ask him why he would take on the knotty problem – televisually as much as narratively – of bringing cyber conflict to the screen, before he expanded on the dire potential real-life consequences for us all.  

First-look image released for new Channel 4 drama The Undeclared War

Adrian Lester, Hannah Khalique-Brown, Mark Rylance and Simon Pegg (credit: Channel 4)

Set in 2024, The Undeclared War tracks a team of leading analysts secretly working to ward off a series of cyber-attacks on the UK ahead of a general election. Buried in the heart of GCHQ, a routine stress test of internet infrastructure goes awry, propelling 21-year-old intern Saara Parvin (Hannah Khalique-Brown) to operate on the invisible frontier of high-stakes cyber warfare.  

Created by Peter Kosminsky (Wolf Hall), the series is the result of years of meticulous research with the aim of lifting the veil on the most urgent battle of our time.

Peter Kosminsky: Pushing political boundaries in TV drama

Over more than 30 years – initially in documentaries, then in dramas – Peter Kosminsky has built a reputation as a fearless film-maker, unafraid of asking awkward questions and taking on the Establishment.

His work has dealt with conflicts in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Palestine, Iraq and Syria, the machinations of New Labour politicians, the lives of abused children, and the victims of war.

Peter Kosminsky: TV should be used to ask awkward questions of society

The writer-director argued that TV drama, when he entered the industry as a BBC trainee in 1980, “held a mirror up to society.

“I’ve just carried on doing what was prevalent when I started. It’s just everything else that has shifted. It’s like the tide has withdrawn and left me on this little island.”

Kosminsky, who was interviewed by Channel 4 News reporter Fatima Manji, argued that “television is an incredibly powerful medium”. But, he added, “most of the time we use it for escapist tosh.

In conversation with Peter Kosminsky

Peter Kosminsky’s eagerly awaited new drama series The State premiers in August on Channel 4. The show, by the award winning creator of BBC’s Wolf Hall, follows four young Britons who decide to join ISIS in Raqqa, Syria. A fictionalised story based on extensive research, it explores a journey which for some, ends in despair and for others in an ever greater commitment to the Caliphate.