It’s a story that has never been told on the small—or any—screen before. The dramatic scripted tale of the role Canada played during the Second World War by training spies in Southern Ontario for missions behind German lines. That history is re-told in X Company, debuting Wednesday on CBC.
“This is an idea that we had 14 years ago, and we couldn’t believe it hadn’t been told,” co-creator Mark Ellis recalls. “And whenever we would tell the story to other people, they couldn’t believe it either.” Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern—who co-created a little drama called Flashpoint—now get their chance.
Starring Jack Laskey (Endeavour), Evelyne Brochu (Orphan Black), Dustin Milligan (90210), Connor Price (Being Human), Warren Brown (Luther) and Flashpoint alum Hugh Dillon, X Company spotlights Camp X, the secret base located east of Toronto where the British and Canadian governments trained spies on surveillance, burglary, interrogation, close combat and killing.
Inspired by real-life tales, Wednesday’s debut begins in 1942, with the Germans in control of Europe. Viewers are introduced to Alfred Graves (Laskey), a Brit with an intriguing medical condition: synesthesia, which has fused all five of his senses together. The result? A man bombarded by his senses all of the time … and the perfect spy because he has nearly perfect memory. Along for the ride are the rest of the team in Aurora Luft (Brochu), a half German/half-French Canadian woman; Harry James (Price), a munitions expert; Neil Mackay (Brown); and propaganda expert Tom Cummings (Milligan) who are under the watchful eye of Duncan Sinclair (Dillon), their commander.
“This is an angle we haven’t seen before,” Morgenstern says. “We’ve seen the epic battlegrounds, but this is about ordinary people who didn’t have a life vocation to save the world but each has a very special skill.”
Ellis describes it as a coming-of-age story about Alfred, a man discovering who he is and, ultimately, a hero. Wednesday’s bow is full of drama and gorgeous cinematography. Sinclair’s squad is dispatched to small-town France to not only assassinate German commanders but destroy a bridge, cutting off an important artery in the Nazi transport route. There is tension, violence, fear and jubilation packed into the tightly-wound, highly entertaining hour.
“We want to pay homage to the truth of what it was to be behind those enemy lines, what the ethical choices were and the shades of grey that you had to live in,” Ellis says.
The long-awaited story starts tonight.
X Company airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CBC.