It’s easy to forget that while Armando Iannucci and co urge the BBC to set up its own subscription-only version of HBO in the UK, one company is already in the fledgling steps of doing just that: BSkyB. Sky have one mission in life and that’s to sell subscriptions and Sky boxes – in particular HD Sky boxes and HD subscriptions (an extra £10 a month). After years of assuming that buying lots of US TV was the way to attract subscribers – to diminishing returns – the last few years has seen a change of strategy: a concerted effort to create home-grown, quality drama, usually based on Terry Pratchett books, in an attempt to get the viewing public to hand over the cash.
Chris Ryan’s Strike Back is the latest part of this strategy. Starring everyone’s favourite Dick Head, Richard Armitage – the actor on everyone’s speed dial when they need to cast an SAS soldier – Strike Back sees Armitage’s down-and-out MI6 security guard (and former SAS soldier) go back to Iraq to recover a kidnapped reporter, who might be in the hands of the Iraqis he fought in his last mission. His MI6 handler: the army intelligence officer who accompanied him back then (Andrew Lincoln).
And you know what? Despite being on Sky 1, it’s actually very good.