Occupation is a three-part drama serial broadcast by BBC One in June 2009.
Three ex-servicemen return to Basra, each for a different reason.
Still in December 2005, Ferguson has located the police station where Hibbs is being held after being told by Yassin, Yunis’s teenage son, who witnessed the kidnap. He is successfully exchanged for money, to the anger of Lester. To pay back Lester, Ferguson persuades him that Hibbs can be used to drive a regular truck shipment they have been contracted to undertake from Kuwait to Basra, which routinely runs empty while Pacific Solutions are still paid for the job. Ferguson and Lester meet Sadiq to sign off on a contract. After Ferguson attempts a last minute change to the sundries total from $6,000 to $60,000, the doctor refuses to sign the contract, to the annoyance of Lester who sees an avenue to millions of dollars’ worth of contacts closed. Back at base, Ferguson forges the doctor’s signature on the contract and tells Lester to go ahead with it. Sadiq gets into an argument with three young militiamen who want treatment for a wounded member, but object to the hospital’s continued use of women doctors against mosque instructions. As he leaves for home, he is kidnapped by unseen assailants as he stands next to his car.
By June 2007, Swift’s son, Richard, has decided to join the Army, and instead of leaving the Army, Swift, who is now divorced, returns to Basra to watch over his son on his first tour. Relations between Lester and Ferguson worsen as Ferguson expresses boredom with life in Dubai. They agree to split their skills, with Lester in Dubai and Petersen in Basra. Swift learns of Sadiq’s kidnap, and visits his wife in the hospital, where she is now forced to work out of sight in the pharmacy. While he is obliged to communicate through a male intermediary, she tells him she does not know who is holding him and that no ransom demand has been made. After consulting with Yassin, Swift theorises that, since no ransom has been demanded, he may have been arrested by British or American authorities, but gets nowhere with inquiries. Swift arranges for Hibbs to bring Aliya to his office, where they have sex, apparently for the first time, and Yassin, who has been getting progressively more religious, expresses displeasure at being in the company of “immoral women” like her.
Three months later, having got nowhere, Swift turns to Ferguson for help, and they argue, as Ferguson assumes that Sadiq must have done something to deserve being arrested, being no good just like “everybody in this country”, bombing and killing each other over religion and tribal conflict. After Swift leaves, Ferguson eventually instructs Hibbs and a colleague to do a job for him; they protest that they should not go outside with fewer than six men, and he counters that work is drying up and they cannot afford to use more. Hibbs meets an Arab pair in the desert, who in exchange for money, hand over a hooded man, who Hibbs discovers is Sadiq. They return him to the hospital, and pay him off with compensation, insisting the incident was a case of mistaken identity.
As they leave, they drive into a demonstrating mob, and after grounding their car are forced to escape on foot as the mob turns on them. As Swift is in the British base, attempting to counsel his son who is not coping well with his first tour, he gets a message from Aliya, asking him to come to the hospital. On arriving, Sadiq reveals it was Ferguson who kidnapped him, and he urges Swift to go to the press to expose Pacific Solutions and to take Aliya out of Iraq, intimating that he knows of their affair, but believes that he “is finished” and that Swift is her best hope of safety. Lester returns to the Basra Pacific office, and is angry at Ferguson, blaming his erratic behaviour, bullying and forgery for losing a multimillion-dollar oil field deal. As they argue, Ferguson receives a call for help from Hibbs, who with his colleague are pinned down. Lester prepares to leave to help Hibbs, while urging Ferguson to take some responsibility for the situation. Ferguson responds by stating he will call the British Army in to rescue the pair, over objections from Lester, who states it would finish them in Iraq.
Richard Swift is a member of the patrol tasked to rescue Hibbs, but is separated from his unit and finds himself in an apartment block. He unsuccessfully attempts to radio for help, and then texts his father, who is in the hospital with Sadiq and Aliya; all three are by now helping the victims of the developing violence outside. As militia arrive, Yassin now among them, Swift is urged to leave by his translator. As Swift leaves, Aliya is pinned up against a wall and shot in the head by Yassin. Swift receives the text message from his son, and finds him dead in the apartment block.
Back in England, Ferguson, Hibbs and Swift are at Richard’s funeral. The episode ends with the men in a bar afterwards, with Swift angry at Ferguson, blaming him for his son being there, fighting the guilt of having not got to him in time. Hibbs, having become a counsellor for returning servicemen, is prepared to aid Swift in “taking down” Ferguson and Lester with information about their dodgy dealings. Ferguson retaliates by stating that his new-found reason for risking his life in Iraq is money, in contrast to the lack of a reason while in the Army. Swift questions what has happened to him, to which he replies “I went to Iraq, why, what happened to you?”. The episode ends poignantly as all three are left sitting in the bar, all close to tears.
You can find a full index and overview of Occupation here.
Production & Filming Details
- Release Date: 18 June 2009.
- Running Time: 180 minutes (total running time).
- Rating: Unknown.
- Country: UK.
- Language: English.