The Undeclared War is all about cyber attacks, as anyone will have gathered who saw the initial teasers (at the bottom of this review) which showed Adrian Lester as the Prime Minister, and Simon Pegg from his cabinet, delivering a message about how the internet was on the verge of falling apart.
Some people actually thought this was REAL(!) …but apparently, it’s under an Ofcom investigation
Anyhoo, the opening episode took a little bit of time to get into, since early on, we see a young woman called Saara (Hannah Chaliquie-Brown), descending into a man hole, hacking away at a wall of bricks, in order to retrieve a secret message… in a scene which appears to mix investigating various locations with sitting at a laptop, doing the usual form of hacking. In fact, the whole exploration aspect comes across like ITV’s ’90s kids show, Knightmare.
Ah, we see she’s in a hacking contest, but it’s thanks to her talents that she’s recruited to GCHQ on work experience, with the series being set in the near future, beginning on Friday April 12th 2024.
There, and as part of their usual business practices, GCHQ are stress-testing BT’s network, but it’s causing problems at the telecoms company’s end, shutting down over half of BT’s internet provision, so all online shopping, Zoom and Teams meetings and other elements are shut down. However, social media is unaffected.
So, who’s jumped in during this time, in order to bring the ‘information superhighway’ to its knees? And whilst in the middle of an election campaign, which looks suspect? Ah, there’s the rub.
Along the way, Saara’s also trying to juggle work with her busy home life, including parents Yasmin (Bharti Patel, best known as Ruhma from Doctors) and Ahmed (Nitin Ganatra), but I’ll let you discover how that plays out, since here, I’ll give the basics of the plot, but I’m keeping this spoiler-free.
As a few asides, I noticed:
- While people are checking the code on their screens, there’s lots of speeding up of the background music to get across the tension, yet it just looks quite amusing.
- There’s a grumpy sod in the characters who poo-poos the finds as they try to work out, because there might be more than meets the eye, and so they might not yet have cracked it all – even though since I’ve only seen the first episode, I would presume there’s more to come, because this is only episode one, and it would be a very short series if they resolved everything immediately.
However, you feel like there should be a button to click on, so you can boo and hiss at this villain!
- Everyone who works there has at least 3 monitors on their desk… plus, when some people have left work for the day, why are their monitors left on, wasting electricity? Aren’t we still in a cost of living crisis in 2024?
- It does rather irk me that one guy shows Saara how to access the malware that they need to look into, on her PC by touching her mouse without her asking. Ugh… ASK before you do that! (and I’ll say NO, anyway). However, when it gets described how they process this, it’s more complex than a complex thing, and confused the hell out of me.
- And why is she starting her new job on a Friday? Who does that?! Plus, since they’re working late, is it really necessary for them to turn the lights down to the point where you can barely see what you’re doing? The glare from the monitors won’t be good for your eyes. Working too late is unproductive, anyway. It certainly doesn’t help with a work-life balance.
Overall, the opener is a bit slow, and not as tension-filled as the initial trailer (below) would have us believe, but it’s interesting enough to continue watching and see how it progresses.
UPDATE Episode 2:
The Undeclared War begins on Thursday June 30th at 9pm, after which, the entire series will be on All 4.
The series is not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Director: Peter Kosminsky
Producer: Robert Jones
Writer: Peter Kosminsky
Danny: Simon Pegg
Saara Parvyn: Hannah Chaliquie-Brown
Prime Minister Makende: Adrian Lester
Phil: Joss Porter
David Neal: Alex Jennings
Yasmin Parvyn: Bharti Patel
Ahmed Parvyn: Nitin Ganatra
Gabriel Davies: Alfie Friedman
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.