SS:GB. Television Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

Cast: Sam Riley, James Cosmo, Fritz Kellermann, Kate Bosworth, Lars Eidinger, Maeve Dermody, Jason Flemyng, Jonathan Cass, Sam Kronis, Christina Cole, Lucas Gregorowicz, Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Andrew Bicknell, James Northcote, Michael Epp, Aneurin Barnard, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Danny Webb.


In the last century one of the defining moments for Britain is the Second World War, we seem to make the most of a single act of defiance that because of what could be perceived as arrogance by others, we cheerfully, and most times out of disrespect to the those we are trying to insult, love to tell the line about how Britain won the war.

This almost single handed victory in our eyes defines us, has shaped us and yet we conveniently forget two simple truths along the way, that if it was not for the Russians and their millions of men, if not for the former colonies such as India and Canada, Europe would have suffered even further under the tyranny and evil of Nazism and people also disregard the inconvenience of knowledge of just how close Britain came to being invaded herself. History only has to open the pages at how the people of the Channel Islands endured occupation when the Nazi flag was flown over St. Peter’s Port and Castle Cornet. That defining moment, the one in which all could have been lost, is explored in the television adaption of Len Deighton’s superb novel SS:GB.

Whilst another channel might be highlighting what the world looks like through a different set of eyes in the adaption of The Man in the High Castle, it is the rugged and bleak finish of a much more unpalatable truth that sits at the heart of SS:GB, the almost cold brutal fact that Nazi Germany almost ground Britain into submission is not easily swallowed and the thought of a Swastika hanging, almost swaggering, from the top of the Houses of Parliament is enough to make the stomach churn and yet in the images carried during the five episodes, that bitterness in the guts could have been a reality.

Len Deighton’s clever idea of a murder mystery and double dealing set against the backdrop of a London controlled by Germany strikes at the heart of perhaps the doubts we have of ourselves as a nation; we are too proud to concede that without help in the past we would have only withstood the aggression of evil for so long and now we are too proud arguably to understand that we need the world, as much as the world needs us. No man is an island but somehow Britain is a series of such inlets, atolls and isles and we have made sure that we are once seen again as tiny islanders.

With very good performances by James Cosmo as Harry Woods, Lars Eidinger as Dr. Oskar Huth and Sam Reilly as the play it by the book Scotland Yard Detective Douglas Archer, SS:GB might not have the money thrown at it which has benefitted The Man in the High Castle, however instead it had the absolute realism that makes the thought of what could have been so invasive, so disturbing, so insidious that the words of we won the war should be forever stricken from the national psyche. For what good was making sure the evils of Nazism was defeated if we now turn our backs to the world once more?

Ian D. Hall