SS-gb review – London is falling in chilling alt-history of second world war

The BBC’s five-part miniseries, adapted from Len Deighton’s novel, holds up handsomely on the big screen, favouring film noir style over pulp content

The alternative history genre is built on “what ifs?”. The 1931 essay collection If It Had Happened Otherwise contains one piece wondering how history might have been different had John Wilkes Booth’s gun had jammed, leaving Abraham Lincoln to enjoy a perfectly pleasant evening at the theatre; another essay, written by Winston Churchill, imagines the world following a Confederate triumph at Gettysburg. There also exists an entire subgenre conditional on an undesirable outcome to the second world war. Robert Harris’s Fatherland and Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle have been filmed for television. Now Len Deighton’s SS-gb, which shows the Metropolitan police adopting a business-as-usual approach in London after Britain’s capitulation to Germany, has been turned into a
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