Once Upon a Time in Iraq

Rating 9.2
Streamer BBC iPlayer
Seasons 1
Episodes 5 x 60 mins

Other programme makers have told the story of the 2003 Iraq War through the perspective of the politicians, the generals and the analysts. This outstanding series talks to the people who were actually there, on the ground, and the result is an astonishing piece of television.

In The Guardian Rebecca Nicholson says that talking to the witnesses of history is a tactic that director James Bluemel used on a previous award-laden series, Exodus: Our Journey. He thinks this “approach is no less devastating here,” and that this five-part series “is gripping, harrowing and, at times, darkly funny.” Using journalists, soldiers and Iraqi civilians to lead us though the time before and during the 2003 invasion, “Bluemel has found an impressive array of voices, each of whom has a different take on what happened and what went wrong.” The Independent’s Sean O’Grady says the series, “has the simple aim of allowing first-hand accounts and reflections of the war to be heard. Some of it is conflicting, inevitably – but it does not purport to be another public inquiry, and it is all the better for that.” Hugo Rifkind in The Times calls it quite simply: “The best thing on television this week… What a masterpiece”.

By interviewing some of the people who were there, Once Upon A Time In Iraq, tells a new story of the invasion, at times terrifying, but also by turns tender and unexpectedly funny. It is consistently compelling television.

 First shown July 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.

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