Baghdad Central is a new 6-part Channel 4 drama which begins in the city, in March 2003, and the residents know the US troops are coming for Saddam Hussein, and as we know from history, it happens on March 20th.
Fast-forward to November 2003, and the invasion is still happening. To add to the woes of ex-police inspector Muhsin Kadr al-Khafaji (Waleed Zuaiter), his daughter, Sawsan (Leem Lubany), has gone missing and left behind her pass to allow access into her college, so nothing’s looking at all on the level.
Muhsin also has his own run-in with the resistance, prior to coming into contact with British policeman Frank Temple (Bertie Carvel – who played Nick Clegg in Channel 4’s election drama, Coalition), who asks him to help rebuild a new Iraqi police service, since who could be better for the job than a man born in Iraq? However, will Muhsin take the decision to become a collaborator, if it means he can get into the secure Green Zone in order to continue to look for his daughter.
There’s also a scene early on in the second episode, where an American tank is going down the street and having rocks thrown at it by local kids. Reminds me of the time I drove past Hazel Grove High School in Stockport, and the feral buggers from there did the same thing. However, I wasn’t trying to ‘liberate’ their place.
At the time of writing this, I’ve seen two episodes and so far, Baghdad Central is interesting, and I’ll stick with it, but it’s not quite as accessible as it could be. Also, when some English dialogue is spoken, it’s not too clear, so I recommend having subtitles on for that. They will be available on All4, and the entire series is on there after the first episode airs, but they’re not present on the preview version I’m watching prior to broadcast. Occasionally, I’ve rewound the dialogue a couple of times, but it’s still not always clear.
It’s shot in 2.35:1 and as I’ve said many times, while I like that for movies, I do prefer 16:9 for TV dramas. A lot are moving over (for some unknown reason) to 2.00:1 which is the current fad. Maybe one day, we’ll return to 16:9?
Baghdad Central begins on Monday February 3rd on Channel 4 at 10pm. The series is available to pre-order on DVD ahead of its release on March 16th 2020.
After the first episode is broadcast, the entire series will be on All 4.
Episodes 1 and 2 Score: 7/10
Series Directors: Alice Troughton, Ben A Williams
Producer: Jonathan Curling
Writer: Stephen Butchard
Music: H Scott Salinas
Muhsin Kadr al-Khafaji: Waleed Zuaiter
Frank Temple: Bertie Carvel
Captain John Parodi: Corey Stoll
Sawsan al-Khafaji: Leem Lubany
Zahra: Maisa Abd Elhadi
Sanaa: Nora El Koussour
Clark Kibbert: Jonny Holden
Mrouj al-Khafaji: July Namir
Omar: Thaer Al-Shayei
Zubeida Rashid: Clara Khoury
Kellerman: Dipo Ola
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.