For 'Capture' creator Ben Chanan, video shapes the ultimate deception

For 'Capture' creator Ben Chanan, video shapes the ultimate deception
Shaun Emory (Callum Turner) proves his innocence once only to find himself framed for another crime. Photo courtesy of Peacock

LOS ANGELES, July 15 (UPI) -- The Capture is a modern-day thriller that unfolds between international intelligence agencies using real-life technology. The story follows Shaun Emory (Callum Turner), who has just been acquitted of killing a Taliban insurgent.

Laura Haddock plays Shaun's lawyer, Hannah Roberts, who proves the incriminating video evidence against Shaun was inaccurate. After Shaun's acquittal, Hannah goes missing. Closed-circuit television footage shows Shaun attacking Hannah, but the viewer sees he didn't actually do it.


Homicide detective Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger) investigates Shaun. Though the story begins in England, Grainger says, it becomes bigger as The Capture progresses.

"It's definitely a universal story," Grainger told UPI over Zoom. "It becomes much more of a global conspiracy."

Shaun goes on the run to evade capture by those who manufactured the evidence against him. The Capture is both a paranoia thriller about the conspiracy to frame Shaun, and a manhunt for both the conspirators and law enforcement to find him.

Turner said that making the show at times felt like being in a conspiracy thriller from the '70s, and other times a big '80s action movie.

"There are tones of Parallax View in there," Turner said. "One episode feels like Rambo: First Blood."


The ubiquity of CCTV cameras in the United Kingdom provided The Capture creator Ben Chanan the milieu to craft a mystery about whether a person can trust the images they see.

Early in Rachel's investigation, she discovers the possibility that someone manipulated the CCTV video to frame Shaun. The video manipulation suggested by The Capture is based on real-life technology, like the "deepfake" apps and computer programs that are used to place one person's face over another person's in a live-action scene. A viral video on YouTube that replaced Michael J. Fox's face with Tom Holland's and Christopher Lloyd's with Robert Downey Jr.'s in a scene from Back to the Future is an example.

Since he was a famous soldier, lots of footage of Shaun is available that conspirators could place in the CCTV footage. Turner feels even if Shaun were not a public figure, conspirators could find plenty of images of him to manipulate.

"[On] Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, people put so many pictures up of themselves," Turner said.

Grainger agreed that The Capture reflected a real-life concern. It could be a cautionary tale about how vulnerable anybody is to having their images manipulated.

The conspiracy against Shaun also involves Counter Terrorism Command, a real-life U.K. agency that works with MI5 and MI6 internationally. The CTC's involvement reinforces the notion of a global conspiracy.


Ben Miles plays Commander Danny Hart of the CTC. While the footage in question comes from British CCTV, Miles suggests that the manipulation of video could speak to international terrorism.

"The potential for the manipulation of the data is a global potential I think and will have global consequences," Miles said.

Global consequences include the CIA. CIA U.K. division head Frank Napier (Ron Perlman) does not appear until the very end of Episode 2. Perlman suggests his involvement in the conspiracy against Shaun runs deeper than government affiliation.

"His gusto for the pursuit of Shaun Emory seems personal," Perlman said.

Perlman says the mysterious Frank has had a long career in intelligence. He enjoyed exploring whether the job has corrupted Frank.

"He either is or isn't tainted by the things that he's had to tamp down," Perlman said. "What has that done to his personal psyche?"

Chanan attempts to portray the agencies involved with The Capture accurately, even within the fictional story. When Grainger shadowed homicide detectives in the U.K., the experience confirmed for her that the procedures Chanan wrote were accurate.

"[It] was really eye opening just to see how it actually works in the U.K.," Grainger said. "It was really interesting to see how true to life and well researched Ben's scripts were."


To portray Shaun's military experience accurately, Turner spent six months prior to filming The Capture speaking with a retired soldier named Smudge.

"He was a paratrooper and he gave me story after story, experience after experience," Turner said. "[We discussed] what it's like before you go on tour, what it's like on tour, what it's like when you come back from tour."

Although The Capture is rooted in accurate research, no homework is required of the viewer. Chanan hopes viewers tune in for the story of Shaun, an innocent man trying to clear his name.

"The idea of a wronged man story is universal," Chanan said.

The Capture premieres Wednesday with the launch of the Peacock streaming service.

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