Channel 4 and Peacock commission seven-time BAFTA-winner Peter Kosminsky’s The Undeclared War

Category: News Release

Six-part drama series is a Playground and NBC International Studios co-production for Channel 4 and Peacock

Cast includes Mark Rylance, Simon Pegg, Adrian Lester, Alex Jennings, Maisie Richardson-Sellers and newcomer Hannah Khalique-Brown

APRIL 27 2021: Channel 4 and Peacock today announce the commission of THE UNDECLARED WAR, a timely and provocative six part cyber thriller, directed and co-written by seven-time BAFTA-winner Peter Kosminsky (Wolf Hall, The Government Inspector).

The series reunites Kosminsky with Emmy Award-winning producer Colin Callender and his production company Playground, producers of the Golden Globe and BAFTA-winning miniseries Wolf Hall, which Kosminsky also directed, and the recent hit series All Creatures Great and Small. Playground will co-produce the series with NBC International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group, for Channel 4 and Peacock. NBCUniversal Global Distribution will handle international sales.

Set in a post-pandemic 2024 in the run up to a British general election, THE UNDECLARED WAR tracks a leading team of analysts buried in the heart of GCHQ (the UK’s version of the NSA) secretly working to ward off a cyber-attack on the country’s electoral system. During a three-year research process, Kosminsky and his team gained access to the cyber security industry on both sides of the Atlantic, allowing a realistic picture of the threat faced by the Western world to be depicted in the drama. 

Exciting newcomer Hannah Khalique-Brown will play Saara Parvin, a young student doing work experience in the GCHQ Malware Department, with Simon Pegg (Star Trek, Mission Impossible) playing Danny Patrick, GCHQ’s Head of Operations, Academy Award-winner© Mark Rylance (Wolf Hall, Bridge of Spies) playing John Yeabsley, a Cold War veteran brought back from retirement by GCHQ to combat the heightened threat level, and Adrian Lester (Riviera, Mary Queen of Scots) will play Andrew Makinde, the UK’s first Black Conservative Prime Minister.

Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) will play Kathy Freeman, an American cyber-analyst on attachment at GCHQ from the NSA. Alex Jennings (A Very English Scandal, The Crown) will play David Neal, the Head of GCHQ,

Kosminsky will direct all six episodes and has written four. Other writers include Declan Lawn (The Salisbury Poisonings), Adam Patterson (The Salisbury Poisonings) and Amelia Spencer (Dead Birds).

Kosminsky will Executive Produce alongside Callender (Wolf Hall, All Creatures Great and Small) and Noëlette Buckley (Wolf Hall, King Lear) for Playground. Robert Jones (Babylon) is the Producer.

Kosminsky says; “The series is based deep within the least-known arm of the UK’s intelligence infrastructure, GCHQ. The story we’re now able to tell casts an extraordinary, revelatory light on the hot, undeclared war taking place right now in the world’s newest and most invisible domain of conflict – cyber.”

Caroline Hollick, Head of Channel 4 Drama says; “Peter Kosminsky is a titan of British television drama, and it’s a privilege to have this ground-breaking thriller on Channel 4 – it’s a truly momentous series which will change the way we see the world around us. I’m also delighted to have such stellar names in the cast, as well as the chance to break brand-new on-screen talent”.

I’m delighted to be reuniting with Peter to bring his exhilarating vision to life,” says Callender. “THE UNDECLARED WAR is a stunning cautionary tale that brings to life a world never seen before on television or in film. I’m equally thrilled to be partnering with NBCUniversal International Studios, Channel 4 and Peacock, all of whom have been fiercely supportive and dedicated to bringing this provocative, timely story to the screen.”

It’s such an honor to bring this powerhouse writing and producing team to Peacock for a thrilling drama that will keep viewers at the edge of their seat with this timely and realistic look into cyber security,” adds Lisa Katz, President, Scripted Content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming.


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About Channel 4

Channel 4 is a publicly-owned yet commercially-funded public service broadcaster and has a remit to be innovative, experimental and distinctive. Its public ownership and not-for-profit status ensure all profit generated by its commercial activity is directly reinvested back into the delivery of its public service remit.

As a publisher-broadcaster, Channel 4 is also required to commission UK content from the independent production sector and currently works with around 300 creative companies across the UK every year.

In addition to the main Channel 4 service, its portfolio includes: E4, More4, Film4, 4seven,, streaming service All 4 and The Box Plus Network, including 4Music.

The Channel 4 drama department has been responsible for recent successes such as BAFTA Scotland nominated Deadwater Fell produced by Kudos and starring David Tennant and Cush Jumbo, the critically acclaimed, RTS Nominated Adult Material produced by Fifty Fathoms and Russell T Davies’ and Red Productions breakout hit, It’s A Sin which recently amassed 18.9m views on Channel 4’s streamer service All 4*, becoming the platform’s biggest ever instant box set and the most binged to date. Forthcoming projects include the BAFTA-nominated Jack Thorne’s Help (w/t) starring the BAFTA-award winning Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham, produced by The Forge, as well as Story Films’ My Name is Lizzie (w/t) which will star the BAFTA nominated Niamh Algar.


About Peacock

Peacock is NBCUniversal’s streaming service. Peacock delivers a world-class slate of exclusive originals, on-demand libraries of hit TV shows, plus critically acclaimed films from the vaults of Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination, and Hollywood’s biggest studios. In addition, Peacock taps into NBCUniversal’s unmatched ability to deliver a broad range of compelling topical content across news, sports, late-night, Spanish-language, and reality. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.


About NBC International Studios

NBC International Studios, a division of Universal Studio Group, delivers award-winning content to millions across the globe. Headquartered in London, the business’ production companies include Carnival Films, creator of worldwide TV and movie phenomenon Downton Abbey, The Last Kingdom and hit drama Belgravia; Monkey Kingdom, producer of BAFTA-winning Made in Chelsea, The Real Housewives of Cheshire and Jersey, UK and hip hop comedy show Don’t Hate the Playaz; Australian-based Matchbox Pictures, producer of critically acclaimed series The Slap, Safe Harbour, Stateless and upcoming dramas Clickbait and Things I Know To Be True; and Working Title Television, producer of Tales of the City, The Luminaries, upcoming music comedy We Are Lady Parts and The Black T-Shirt Collection, the first television project by Inua Ellams. NBCUniversal International Studios also operates a joint production venture with Heyday Television (The Long Song, The Capture, Clickbait) and owns an equity stake in Lark Productions (The Glass Hotel, Descender/Ascender) in Canada. Additionally, the studio houses a UK and LA-based scripted unit that develops and produces original series such as the Emmy-nominated television adaptation Hanna. The unit also partners with third party production companies, broadcasters, networks and platforms to make hit shows such as Transplant (Sphere Media/CTV) and Pretty Hard Cases (Cameron Pictures/CBC).


About Playground

Playground is a New York and London-based television, film and theatre production company founded in 2012 by award-winning producer Colin Callender.

Playground has produced over 90 hours of primetime television drama garnering 16 Emmy nominations, 26 BAFTA nominations, and 12 Golden Globe nominations, including winning a BAFTA and a Golden Globe for Best Miniseries.

Recent productions include Wolf Hall, the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Peabody Award winning miniseries starring Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis and Claire Foy for the BBC and Masterpiece on PBS, The Dresser, the RTS winning television adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s acclaimed play starring Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins and directed by Richard Eyre for the BBC and Starz, The White Princess, a limited series for Starz drawn from the bestselling book by Philippa Gregory, Howards End, Academy Award-winner Kenneth Lonergan’s adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic novel starring Hayley Atwell, Matthew Macfadyen and Tracey Ullman directed by Hettie Macdonald for the BBC and Starz, Little Women, adapted by Heidi Thomas and starring Emily Watson, Michael Gambon and Angela Lansbury for the BBC and Masterpiece on PBS, King Lear starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson and directed by Richard Eyre for the BBC and Amazon, Chimerica, adapted by Lucy Kirkwood from her Olivier Award-winning play and starring Alessandro Nivola, Cherry Jones and Sophie Okonedo for Channel 4, The Spanish Princess, a continuation of The White Princess and The White Queen starring Charlotte Hope, Laura Carmichael and Harriet Walter for Starz, and All Creatures Great and Small based on the iconic bestselling novels by James Herriot for Channel 5 and Masterpiece on PBS.

Upcoming series include Dangerous Liaisons for Starz and Peter Kosminsky’s THE UNDECLARED WAR for Channel 4 and Peacock.

Playground’s theatre productions on Broadway include: Nora Ephron’s Tony-nominated Lucky Guy directed by George C. Wolfe starring Tom Hanks in his Broadway debut, Harvey Fierstein’s Tony-nominated Casa Valentina directed by Joe Mantello, the Tony Award-winning revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Jez Butterworth’s The River directed by Ian Rickson and starring Hugh Jackman, and Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford’s critically acclaimed groundbreaking production of Macbeth at The Park Avenue Armory in New York, and the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Dear Evan Hansen. Recent theatre productions in the West End include: John Tiffany's The Glass Menagerie, Casey Nicholaw’s Dreamgirls, and Ian Rickson’s Rosmersholm.

Playground, in partnership with Sonia Friedman Productions, is currently producing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the West End where it won a record-breaking 9 Olivier Awards, on Broadway where it won 6 Tony Awards including Best Play, and in Melbourne, San Francisco and Hamburg where it has opened to further critical acclaim.