What would have happened if J.F.K. had not been assassinated? What would the world look like if the Berlin Wall was still standing? Imagine if the Cuban Missile Crisis had escalated into a full-scale nuclear war. The world of alternate history has long proved a source of fascination for academics and enthusiasts alike, but for the majority, scrutinizing the nuances of outcomes that never were has not been seen as the most gripping of activities. But, in an increasingly fractious world coloured by hyperbole, in which the notion of “alternative facts” is now considered defiantly mainstream, the “What If?” question suddenly does not seem so obscure. It is timely, therefore, that the BBC’s latest drama SS-GB is due to hit our screens this Sunday. Starring Sam Riley and Kate Bosworth, and adapted from Len Deighton’s cult 1978 novel, the series tackles the biggest What If question: what would have happened if the Nazis had won the Battle of Britain? Set in a Swastika-adorned London governed by German forces, the show focuses on the moral challenges and compromises faced by citizens living under the control of a fascist regime. “I think that when we all filmed this a little over a year ago, there was just no way we could anticipate the state of affairs as they are now,” says Bosworth, who plays a New York Times journalist. “It’s not lost on anyone, the significance that this type of material has on the current global situation.
“This is a reminder that there is a right side of history, and we have been on the right side of history. Let’s stay on the right side of history.”
SS-GB starts on BBC One at 9.00pm on Sunday February 19