Strike Back is a British/American action and military television series, based on a novel of the same name by novelist and former Special Air Service (SAS) soldier Chris Ryan. The series follows the actions of special forces soldiers who work for an elite part of MI6, only known as Section 20., a secretive branch of the British Defence Intelligence service (DI), who operate several high risk, priority missions throughout the globe.
The story begins in Basra in 2003, where Collinson's a captain in military intelligence and gets involved in a hostage extraction with John Porter and a group of three other SAS men. It goes disastrously wrong and since that point Porter and Collinson's lives are almost twinned. In the present day, Collinson employs him as a security guard at Section 20 and the story unfolds from there.
Themes of Strike Back...
As a result of this disastrous extraction there is something unresolved between these two men that's very much at the surface of the story. But what's more interesting for me are the relationships between this ensemble of characters who are trying to do a seemingly impossible job in extraordinary conditions. It's about trust.
It's almost like a Greek tragedy; we're dealing with life and death, and all of the primeval instincts about control, identity, truth, lies and secrets. These are great themes. And there's a really interesting character arc for all of us.
Across the six episodes there's this continuing undercurrent of unease and suspicion. You have to ask who is it in military intelligence who keeps the secrets and holds the power. I like the fact that the guy who's in charge is actually under suspicion himself.
Why Strike Back...
It's unusual to see this scale of story on our channels. It's a really ambitious project and I take my hat off to Sky for commissioning it. If we're going to challenge American television we really need to up the ante, and the more our channels do that, the more diverse and compelling drama we're going to see. To have another channel competing against the terrestrials can only make everyone lift their game. Add to that a phenomenonal cast, with some of the greatest home-grown talent we've got, an incredible camera team, a fantastic director and a production company that's beyond compare, and it was an easy decision.
Make love not war and all that, but seriously, give me my gun! The chance to film action stuff was one of the principle reasons I wanted to be in this. English actors seldom get a chance, unless we're playing Americans, to wield any kind of weapon. I'm fortunate because I get to do the intelligence scenes which are very dynamic and exciting, and then I get to throw my weight around in the field, which is great. It's been such a laugh.
Working with firearms...
This is the first time I've really got to grips with a gun. I did Gangster No. 1 where I had a gun, but I mainly used knives in that. They call me ‘Collinson Bang Bang' because I've loved it so much.
It's Jim'll Fix It, this job. It isn't very often you get to run around and shoot things. It's boys' own adventure and I've thoroughly embraced it. I've been reading the new scripts hoping they take me back into the field and out of the control room.
We did a couple of weeks of military and gun training and strategic moving. In the opening scenes of the first episode we have to look like we're Special Forces and that's completely different to regular soldiers, so we were trained by an incredible guy who served for 20 years in the SAS. You have to throw yourself into it, but once you have a gun in your hand it's incredible how the adrenaline kicks in. It automatically charges a scene and gives you this sense of reality.
Why tune in...
It's great TV. What we're making here is an action film in very recognisable and contemporary situations. The stories are authentic and the characters are very engaging. There's something of a swagger to this series and, for me, the whole experience has been brilliant on every level.
Hugh Collinson Photos
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