Ovation's Slick Drama 'X Company' is Based on Real-Life World War II Spies
OVATION, Monday, Feb. 19, 10:00 PM ET
By Kellie Freeze
Ovation’s Canadian import, 'X Company,' premieres Monday and is inspired by the true story of Camp X, a top-secret Allied spy training facility during World War II. The period action drama comes from the producers of Orphan Black and follows five highly skilled recruits as they conduct risky and covert missions behind enemy lines in hopes of changing the tide of the war.
Agents at Camp X, located on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario, underwent training in sabotage, subversion, intelligence gathering, lock picking, explosives, radio communications, and the arts of silent killing and unarmed combat. And for our heroes in the series, these skills come in handy all in a day’s work. Their espionage is made more astonishing when considering that the feats were accomplished without modern equipment; spy tools of the era include suitcase-sized radios, telegraphs, ciphers and sticks of dynamite.
When the series opens in 1942, German forces control much of Europe, and small groups of Allied fighters wage clandestine battles via unconventional warfare. The members of X Company are unassuming and unconventional warriors who work with deadly precision and might be the key that turns the tide of war.
Orphan Black alumna Evelyne Brochu stars as Aurora Luft, a chameleon-like polyglot who is as adept at hiding in plain sight as she is at overhearing German secrets. The actress marvels at the opportunity to play one of World War II’s hidden heroes. “We’re not action heroes that were trained for 12 years,” she says. “[Our characters] are so green. There’s something so beautiful about them not being James Bond. They don’t know what to do every split second. You don’t have that confidence that everything is gonna go well, which makes them that much more relatable. They are us, and they were us. They are everyday people who put their lives on the line.”
These nameless heroes were the hidden hopes of the Allied powers at a time, early in World War II, when Europe lay under German domination. And the series pays tribute to the real men and women by telling their story of sel?ess bravery and service.
Joining Aurora on her nearly impossible mission are other ordinary people who’ve been recruited for their extraordinary talents: Neil (Luther’s Warren Brown), the team’s muscle and a former London cop who was bombed in the Blitz; Alfred (Endeavour’s Jack Laskey), a gentle soul whose synesthesia allows him to have a near-perfect memory; Harry (Being Human’s Connor Price), a bespectacled 1940s version of a hacker, who can transmit Morse code at the blistering speed of 51 words per minute; and Tom (Dustin Milligan of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and Schitt’s Creek), whom Brochu describes as “the sly, American member of the team. He would be in marketing if it was 2017. He believes that through manipulation and convincing, you can win this war.”
It’s easy to acknowledge the common DNA shared by X Company and Orphan Black: Both series boast fast-paced action, strong female characters and incredible plot twists. “From an insider’s perspective,” says Brochu, “I got the same page-turning feeling when I read the script. There’s a thrill, there’s a wanting to know what’s going to happen next, there’s progressive values, and there’s the same, perhaps, grit.”
But X Company is more than spies blowing stuff up, says Brochu. “It’s a spy show, yes. It’s packed with action, but it’s also about a team.” A team willing to put themselves into harm’s way out of devotion to the cause of freedom. Brochu marvels, “Somehow, even when fascism seems to be winning, there are people who are willing to put their lives on the line for what they know is right, and what they know is just. For me, that’s a beautiful message of hope,” she says. “We can be inspired by these men and women on a daily basis.”
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