Chris Ryan’s Strike Back (2010) John Porter

“Strike Back” is based on a novel by former SAS operative Chris Ryan (who also wrote Ultimate Force in which Richard appeared in several episodes in series 6) and was produced by Left Bank Pictures, It aired weekly as 3 x 90 minute episodes (2 x 45 minute episodes back-to-back) from May 6 to 19, on Sky Television. Elsewhere throughout the world they also aired as 6 x 45 minute episodes. To date (October, 2012) this series has not aired in the US. The series was renewed, however, by then Richard had accepted the role of Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit. He appeared at the beginning of the first episode of the second season to be killed off.


He made such an impression that, according to one interviewer, “The casting director for Captain America only had to see his face on a billboard for this year’s Sky One drama Strike Back to know that she wanted to give him the role of Nazi agent Heinz Kruger.” (The Scotsman, Interview: Richard Armitage, actor, July 25, 2011)


On the eve of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Porter (Richard Armitage) leads a Special Forces unit on a daring hostage rescue mission into the heart of Basra, culminating in a disastrous turn of events for him and [Hugh] Collinson (Andrew Lincoln). Porter bears the burden of guilt, with the repercussions haunting him for years, until an opportunity presents itself to return to Iraq and redeem himself. After several years apart, Porter and Collinson’s lives are about to collide once again … In three stand-alone narratives based in Iraq, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Pakistan, dramatised over six episodes, the stories interweave the dramatic politics of war, with the personal demons of two very driven men: Collinson and Porter. (“About the show – the Story”, SKY, 2010 )


Production details  

Richard Armitage – John Porter
Andrew Lincoln – Hugh Collinson
Jodhi May – Layla Thompson
Shelley Conn – Danni Prendiville
Laura Greenwood – Alexandra Porter
Nicola Stephenson – Diane Porter (1-3)
Colin Salmon – James Middleton (1-4)
Orla Brady – Katie Dartmough (1-2)
Dhaffer L’Abidine – Hakim Al Neseri (Epis 1-2)
David Harewood – Tshuma (3-4)
Shaun Parkes – Felix Masuku (3-4)
Ewen Bremner – Gerald Baxter (5-6)
Alexander Siddig – Zahir Sharq (5-6)
Toby Stephens – Frank Arlington (5-6)


Directors                           Producer                      Writers
Daniel Percival                   Andrew Benson            Jed Mercurio (1-4)
Edward Hall                                                             Alan Whiting (2-3)
Robert Murphy (5-6)


… that became the challenge, to reinvent this idea of a war hero. I had to find something else in an action hero that rings different bells. … When you look at the man as opposed to what he does as his job, it becomes a bit more wide reaching … A soldier is just what he does … it becomes more of  a moral journey for him. How does he survive as a man and a soldier, as a husband and a father and a soldier at the same time? (BBC 5Live interview with Richard Bacon, May 4th, 2010)

“I kind of wanted him to be better than I was. I wanted him to be the kind of bloke that I’d like to be even with all the flaws, and I kind of admired the flaws in him, and I admired the tenacity to standing up and saying “no, I made a mistake, I’m gonna take the consequences but I’m gonna search out the reasons why it was a mistake. I’m gonna question this … and I can’t rest until I do”, and  kind of admired that in the character. (Sunday Express interview with David Stephenson, Twitter, May 2nd, 2010)