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Paradox: The BBC's version of FlashForward?

17/10/2009. Contributed by Jessica Martin

Buy Paradox in the USA - or Buy Paradox in the UK

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The new BBC 1 sci-fi mini-series Paradox stars actress Tamzin Outhwaite as Inspector Rebecca Flint, who has to work with space scientist Dr Christian King - aka Emun Elliott - when a series of rogue images are transmitted from space into his laboratory. The fragmented images appear to be of a terrible incident but they also suggest it is yet to happen - it's in the future. Their tag line is: If you could see the future, would you change it? Our tag line is: Just how similar to FlashForward will this one turn out to be? I guess we will have to wait and see.

Christian, Rebecca and her team, DS Ben Holt (Mark Bonnar) and DC Callum Gada (Chiké Okonkwo), face a race against time as they only have 18 hours to put together the clues and try to prevent a future tragedy. Paradox is directed by Simon Cellan Jones (Generation Kill) and Omah Madha (Law & Order). Paradox starts on BBC One in November 2009.

Space scientist Doctor Margaret Aderin was drafted in during the development process to advise on the time travel theories in the scripts. The production team - producer Marcus Wilson (Life On Mars), executive producers Murray Ferguson and Patrick Spence, Lizzie Mickery and Simon Cellan Jones - are making this five-part mini-series.

"We knew there was an appetite for a big, bold, fresh take on the cop show," said Murray Ferguson, chief executive of Clerkenwell Films. "Something that might be different from the traditional formula of investigating a crime that has already taken place. So, we began to consider what if we could find a means of telling that story in reverse? Is there an original and credible way of a police team finding themselves with the knowledge of crimes or disasters happening in the future? We wanted the show to feel like it really could happen in the world we all know. We needed to find a writer who could grab hold of this simple idea and drive it forward, someone who could crack the means of telling it, find the original premise behind it and create the characters and the world. We always knew we wanted Tamzin. She came up in discussions at a very early stage as someone the audience would empathise with, and we all agreed she would be able to take them on Rebecca's extraordinary journey. We then wanted the character of Christian to be a mystery, but have edge and magnetism, which are all qualities Emun Elliott brought to the role. Mark Bonnar is a very experienced actor who we knew would be able to bring the power and energy we needed for Ben, and Chiké Okonkwo convinced us he had both the appeal and range as an actor to take Callum on his dark journey."

"It's not everyday a premise this good walks in the door and it lit us up from day one," noted the BBC's Patrick Spence. "I hope we surprise the audience. In a way, I want them to expect it will be a mainstream, commercial, American-style drama and then be surprised when they see it is rooted it in reality. While shooting, I wanted the actors to be immersed in the action rather than set back from it and I didn't want it over elaborately staged. We had a fantastic set so it was very easy to put the camera right among things rather than have this overlooking rather detached feel. I see Paradox as a character-driven thriller that maintains a heart-stopping adrenaline pace and the ticking clock helps keep viewers involved and in the room. We don't want to allow the audience to relax."

"If you start to change things are you messing with the order of life?" added Lizzie Mickery. "If someone is about to die and you save them, are you jeopardising other people's futures? Big questions like: 'Should you sacrifice the individual for the mass?' come into play. Hopefully, Paradox will be a really thrilling and exciting drama made even more so by the resonance of all these elements."

The drama was shot in 13 weeks, so production had a tight schedule to film set pieces on time.

Marcus Wilson finished off, "I hope viewers find Paradox a thrilling rollercoaster ride with huge amounts of excitement, emotion and spookiness. It should thrill and terrify, but also leave viewers questioning what they would do if they had the opportunity to change the future."

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