The Undeclared War: release date of Channel 4 drama series with Simon Pegg, and cyber attack stunt explained

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The Undeclared War, a new Channel 4 series starring Adrian Lester and Simon Pegg was announced with a controversial TV stunt

Channel 4 drama series The Undeclared War stars Simon Pegg, Hannah Khalique-Brown, Mark Rylance, Adrian Lester, and Maisie Richardson-Sellers.

The premise of the show is simple - in the lead up to the 2024 election London is hit by a massive cyber attack, bringing down important infrastructure and threatening to do irreparable damage to British society.

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In their promos ahead of the season premiere last month, Channel 4 pulled off a bold stunt that saw the channel facing an Ofcom probe.

Adrian Lester as Prime Minister Rt Hon Andrew MakindeAdrian Lester as Prime Minister Rt Hon Andrew Makinde
Adrian Lester as Prime Minister Rt Hon Andrew Makinde | Channel 4

What stunt did Channel 4 pull to launch The Undeclared War?

Channel 4 began the marketing campaign for The Undeclared War with a 100-second stunt film which starred Adrian Lester as the Prime Minister, Andrew Makinde, and Simon Pegg as Head of Operations at GCHQ, Daniel Patrick.

The clip was filmed in the style of an emergency briefing, one that many of us will be all too familiar with following the Covid-19 broadcasts we endured over the last two years.

Patrick warned of an imminent cyber attack on the UK that could damage important infrastructure and affect the way of life of millions across the country.

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The Prime Minister announced that the safety of the public was his top priority and he would do everything he could to limit the damage, though confessed that there would still be significant ramifications from an attack.

Simon Pegg as Head of Operations at GCHQ Daniel PatrickSimon Pegg as Head of Operations at GCHQ Daniel Patrick
Simon Pegg as Head of Operations at GCHQ Daniel Patrick | Channel 4

Channel 4 launched the film at 8.59pm on 10 June across Channel 4, E4, Film4, More4, and on the Channel 4 Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube pages.

Additionally, on 11 June, a 30-second radio advert voiced by Lester repeated the message of an imminent attack.

Is Ofcom investigating Channel 4?

Channel 4 said that the stunt was inspired by Orson Welles’ infamous 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast, which panicked some Americans into thinking that they were under attack from Martian invaders.

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And after Channel 4’s stunt left some UK viewers similarly concerned, Ofcom has been asked to investigate whether the TV and radio stunt breached broadcasting regulations.

According to the Ofcom code, simulated news must be produced in such a way that “there is no reasonable possibility of the audience being misled into believing that they are listening to, or watching, actual news.”

Considering the TV clip featured two well known actors, and as Adrian Lester bears absolutely no resemblance to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, there were a few dead easy giveaways that the emergency broadcast was not real.

However, the radio advert will have only included the actor’s voice, and as many people likely mute Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he appears on TV, some listeners may be forgiven for being duped into believing that the radio advert was authentic.

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What is The Undeclared War about?

The Undeclared War is set in 2024 in the run-up to the next general election, and follows a team of techies working at GCHQ to avert a cyber attack that could affect the outcome of the vote.

The six-part series explores the threat of an unknown enemy nation engaging in a new Cold War in the age of cyber warfare.

When is The Undeclared War release date?

The Undeclared War will begin airing on Channel 4 on 30 June at 9pm with later episodes airing at the same time weekly.

Episodes will be available to watch on All 4 shortly after they are first broadcast.

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