• Espen Klouman Høiner and Anna Friel in The Heavy Water War (SBS)Source: SBS
Bridget Ryan

14 Mar 2016 - 11:24 AM  UPDATED 14 Mar 2016 - 4:02 PM

2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the devastating atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A new three-part drama turns back the clock to look at the Nazis' race to build their own nuclear weapons during WWII and the daring mission carried out by Allied forces to sabotage their plans, which would alter the course of history.

Let’s break it down to just 6 of the many reasons not to miss The Heavy Water War.


1. It’s based on an incredible true story

The series depicts the events leading up to the bold plan executed by Norwegian and British intelligence in 1943 to blow up the heavy water factory in Norway, which was crucial to the Nazi’s atomic weapon development. With the exception of a British film released 50 years ago (The Heroes of Telemark), this pivotal chapter in history has not been widely told - surprising considering that had things played out differently, the outcome of WWII would have been drastically re-written. Just how close did the Nazis' “Uranium Club” come to building an atomic bomb?


2. There are two sides to every story, or in this case, three

The story is told from three perspectives - 1) Nobel Prize winning physicist Werner Heisenberg’s work for the Nazis in Berlin, 2) Norwegian and British Allies plotting to sabotage the factory and 3) the factory owners themselves.


3. Scandinavian drama is so hot right now

It’s fitting that just as the Norwegians and British worked together on this sabotage mission, 72 years later both countries have collaborated again on this series. This time Denmark also got in on the action as a co-production partner - and they know their drama. The Killing, Borgen, The Legacy… all Danish, all cracking telly. The region has become renowned as a powerhouse of world-class drama production and The Heavy Water War is no exception. This is intelligent storytelling, stylishly executed with great performances from a truly international cast.


4. Speaking of the cast…

This remarkable story is brought to life by stellar talent from right across Europe. Representing the UK is Anna Friel (Limitless, Pushing Daisies) and Pip Torrens (The Danish Girl, War & Peace); flying the flag for Norway is Espen Klouman Høiner (Mammon); Maibritt Saerens (The Protectors, The Killing) represents for Denmark; whilst Christoph Bach rounds out the cast as the ground-breaking German scientist, Werner Heisenberg.


5. In our modern age of scientific discovery and geopolitical changes, the story is as relevant as ever

Joining the Uranium Club, Heisenberg recalls Einstein’s words; “Do not worry if war serves science, but if science serves war…”, and so too does the viewer ponder the consequences. The catastrophic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki marked the beginning of the nuclear age. Heavy Water War takes us back to where it all began.


6. The ratings were crazy big in Europe

The series broke ratings records when it premiered last year. An incredible 1.2 million Norwegians watched the first two episodes – that’s a whopping 24% of the population. Basically, if there’s anyone in Norway who hasn’t seen the show, it was probably past their bedtime or they were holidaying in Australia when it aired. It’s now our turn to see what all the fuss is about.


Catch The Heavy Water War on SBS and On Demand from 10.30pm on Tuesday March 15.