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Sky One snaps up realistic Iraq war drama Over There

LONDON - Controversial US drama series 'Over There' about American soldiers fighting in Iraq, created by 'NYPD Blue' creator Steven Bochco, is to headline Sky One's 2006 schedule.

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'Over There', starring 'ER' actor Erik Palladino as an aggressive sergeant leading his team of soldiers through the war-torn streets of Iraq, is set to debut on the Rupert Murdoch-owned FX network tonight in the US, before coming to the UK next year.

The 13-part series centres around the members of an army unit sent to Iraq on their first tour of combat duty and delves deeply into the lives of each member of that unit on the battlefield.

USA Today has described some of the pilot scenes in 'Over There' as "the most harrowing and realistic portrait of warfare ever captured by an American television series".

The Boston Globe, however, says 'Over There' plays safe. Saying that while it has the "visceral intensity of every combat opera since 'Apocalypse Now' it is also a surprisingly conventional war story in praise of Americans fighting on foreign soil... it portrays very few of this particular war's moral and political twists".

Aside from taking audiences directly into the violence of fierce combat, the programme's storylines also look at the effects of war on the home front and how it plays on the families of those serving in a warzone.

The war drama will be something of a first. Unlike previous war stories told at the cinema and on TV, the fighting in Iraq is far from over, making 'Over There' a possible hot political potato.

However, Bochco has said that he will avoid using current events in the storylines, as seen in shows such as 'Law & Order', because of fears about dating too fast. He also said that he will not politicise the drama.

"I don't want to politicise the show in any way. I don't think it's relevant to the dramatisation of this war, and of the men and women who are in uniform and in harm's way. I think the moment you take a political position, you're not doing what art is supposed to do, which is to ask provocative questions," he said.

The Twentieth Century Fox Television-made series has been picked up by UK bosses at Sky One, who will air the series from a late-night slot from early 2006.

David Smyth, head of acquisitions of drama and comedy at Sky One, said: "We're very excited to have secured this groundbreaking, uncompromising show for Sky One.

"Bochco revolutionised the cop drama in the 1990s and we're confident that his unique vision, combined with the renowned reputation of FX, will ensure 'Over There' is must-see TV this summer and prove once again how committed we are to pushing the envelope with the best of edgy US drama."

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