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Watchit; A week on the box with Saturday's Alice Hinds.

The State Channel 4

It's hard to avoid the depressing, bleak and horrifying news that fills our screens, papers and tablets each day.

And increasingly, it's not just bulletins describing wars in far-off countries and threats from foreign dictators that make the headlines, but brutal and violent terrorist attacks on home soil.

However, this week, Channel 4 took a world that was once confined to our news outlets and transferred it to the realm of drama, attempting to add a new depth of understanding to a war that is raging at home and abroad.

Shown in four parts over consecutive nights, The State is a fictional account of four men and women as they leave the UK to join Isis fighters in Syria.

Rising in the dead of night with bleary eyes and suitcases, Jalal, Ziyaad, Shakira and Ushna could be average Brits getting ready for a fortnight in Spain - young and impressionable Ushna even has a pink wheelie case. But instead they are joining a brutal regime.

Created by award-winning writer and NEw director Peter Kosminsky (The Promise, Wolf Hall), the series relies not just on creative scriptwriting but extensive research, which saw former caliphate members interviewed about their experience of abandoning their lives for the jihadi cause.

Kosminsky is trying to paint a complex picture, exploring how seemingly ordinary people become radicalised. As he put it: "We have to confront the fact that terrible things are done by people who are not inherently evil."

And on this front, The State excels. Wide-eyed and eager to please, our protagonists appear more like impressionable school kids trying to win popularity by quoting lines from rap songs and enjoying the camaraderie usually found at beach resorts.

But while the cast give stellar performances and there is a real depth to the action which is often lacking in war dramas, few viewers will end up sympathising with their actions.


JOURNEY Young stars of The State

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 26, 2017
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