I have pre-ordered Strike Back after watching it on Sky, not just because I would like to see it again, but because I would like to share it with family and friends. This was edge-of-the-sofa viewing and has been the most enjoyable and entertaining show I have seen in some time. I must congratulate Sky for all the effort they have put into this multi-million pound production.
I am sure there will be the nit-pickers whose reviews will complain about such things as plot-holes and the services personnel who will give an endless list of everything that was wrong with the uniforms and the equipment. My advice is: just relax and enjoy this "high-octane" ride because Strike Back really is a great adventure.
The production values of this six part series are very high. It was filmed in South Africa - rather than in a Welsh slate quarry - and its magnificent scenery provides a beautiful and believable substitute for Zimbabwe, Iraq and Afghanistan. The cast are some of the best actors to be seen on our TV screens, the music underlines the heart-pounding action sequences, and both Chris Ryan and a group of ex SAS men were called in to advise and train the actors and the production team.
Those who have already read the book may not be satisfied with the way that the scriptwriters have extended, changed and, to my mind, improved upon, the original story. But Chris Ryan has declared that he is more than pleased with the outcome and was particularly thrilled with Richard Armitage's portrayal of his hero, John Porter.
The story concerns a hostage extraction in Iraq which goes wrong. Porter takes the blame and leaves the army in disgrace, but returns 7 years later to redeem himself in another hostage situation. This covers the story of the book but the series goes on to tell 2 more John Porter stories, each one more thrilling than the next. However, there is also an over-arcing plot-line that questions what happened in the stairwell on the night of the bungled hostage extraction and who was really to blame for the deaths of three British soldiers. This theme of betrayal, redemption and revenge is what raises Strike Back above your regular action movie.
Don't you ever get fed up, here in Britain, with cheering on American heroes? Well, in Richard Armitage's John Porter we have at last a magnificent BRITISH hero. Rough, tough, macho and invincible but with a tender and vulnerable side, who wouldn't want to be rescued by such a man? Facebook admirers have come up with such remarks as: "Superman wears JP pyjamas!" Just about sums him up!
Apart from Armitage, who puts in a perfect performance, there is superb support from Andrew Lincoln, Toby Stephens, Ewen Bremner and Orla Brady. The final show-down between Lincoln and Armitage is British acting at its best and the two actors should be proud of a remarkable and moving performance.
There is something for everyone in Strike Back such as the guns and explosions for the boys and a number of gratuitous shirt-off scenes for the ladies. But everyone will enjoy the dramatic tension, the interplay of characters and the surprising amount of humour that ranges from comic one-liners to the surreal Afghan Star episode.
Most memorable moment? Where Porter hides his knife! Armitage will never be allowed to forget that one, LOL!
This is Spooks in Africa. And, like Spooks, you need to pay attention to the ins and outs of the plot and each story merits at least a second viewing. A cracking series which ends in a cliff-hanger. When do we get to see the next one?