The phrase “you couldn’t make it up if you tried” applies.
Jeremy Cassar

21 Jun 2016 - 11:43 AM  UPDATED 30 Jun 2016 - 2:44 PM

"Based on a true story". Five words that can often add weight to the beginning of a film or TV show, while simultaneously raising your expectations. As our globe-spanning festivus of unique content continues, we thought we’d flag those particular shows that are in some way ripped from reality...



Set in 1943-44, this drama drops us in a place you won’t find on the map: a clandestine government facility full of scientists, literally called Nowhere. There, two rival teams of geniuses are working on different bomb designs, forced to keep whatever they may or may not know from their families and loved ones.

The true story:

During World War II, the US teamed up with the UK and Canada to undertake a covert research and development plan called The Manhattan Project – which was basically a fancy name given to the task of building the best nukes as quickly as possible, whether that meant stealing intelligence from the Germans or sacrificing lives in the process. We all know the effects the results of this particular project: Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Watch the first episode of Manhattan right here:


Hotel Adlon

A saga that traverses an entire century as four generations of two families fight to keep Berlin’s Hotel Adlon alive. Hotel Adlon, or Das Adlon. Eine Familiensaga, depicts the successes, sacrifices and secrets of those attempting to run the most famous and glamorous establishment in all of Europe.

The true story:

Yes, Hotel Adlon was once the most famous hotel in Europe, and it still runs today in a replicated building. It was so central to Europe’s luxury scene that Kaiser Wilhelm II was its first visitor in 1907, and guests such as Albert Einsten, Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich and Franklin Roosevelt often visited. The hotel even constructed a fancy bomb shelter to protect guests from all that pesky Nazi stuff happening outside.

Watch the first episode of Hotel Adlon right here:


The Secret

James Nesbitt and Genevieve O’Reilly captivate as Baptist community members in this crime thriller about how far two lovers will go to stay together and save face.

The true story:

On May 19, 1991, the bodies of Lesley Clarke and Trevor Buchanan were found dead in a fume-trapped car in what seemed like a suicide pact. Turns out Baptist dentist Colin Howell and his lover Elkin had killed their respective partners in order to stay together. How they handled the aftermath brings us into gobsmack territory.

Watch the first episode of The Secret right here:



Dubbed “the filthiest show on TV”, this is the story of young Louis XIV (George Blagden) and his drive to create the palace/kingdom of Versailles.

The true story:

Power and sex-hungry King Louis XIV turned a large area of country village containing an oversized hunting lodge into the Palace of Versailles – the ultimate court and epicentre of political power in France, and a communal residence for all his courtiers. Bye bye, feudalism. An absolute monarchy was born. The young, horny dreamer reigns supreme.

Watch the first episode of Versailles right here:


Raised By Wolves

The most unconventional family this side of Springfield, the Garrys live with their middle finger ever pointed at the system. 

The true story:

Creators Caroline and Caitlin Moran based this sitcom on their upbringing. Home-schooled and rarely venturing beyond the backyard, they admit they were weird children, so many of the antics are based on truth, but as it’s a fairly out-there sitcom, the weird antics are amplified.

Watch the first episode of Raised By Wolves right here:


Kabul Kitchen

Jacky (Gilbert Melki) runs the most popular bar in town, and for the most part, he loves being the king of the area’s nightlife. It just so happens that the bar is smack bang in the center of Afghanistan’s capital during the American occupation.

The true story:

A French journalist named Marc Victor actually set up a bar in the middle of a warzone – one that allowed all forms of behavior outlawed by Muslim law, including alcohol, showing flesh, public affection and same-sex coupling.

Watch the first episode of Kabul Kitchen right here:


1864: Denmark’s War

An elderly woman narrates this sweeping epic about her memories of one of the most significant wars in Denmark’s history. These memories revolve primarily around two brothers – her best friends as a child - who both fight in the mother of all wars.

The true story:

In Denmark, the first and second Schleswig Wars are treated in the same fashion as we Aussies treat Gallipoli. The second half of the 19th century was a time of great national pride, one that often outweighed the dangers approaching. The Prussians crossed over into the serene fields of Schleswig, and the rest is brutal, thought-provoking history.

Watch the first episode of 1864: Denmark's War right here:



19-year-old King Tut (Avan Jogia) has reigned for 10 years, and he wants nothing more than to be taken seriously as a leader. Unfortunately, those in his servitude still consider him a child. Ben Kingsley chews the scenery as Tut’s chief adviser (The Grand) Vizier Ay, making decisions for the frustrated boy-king, but the young man’s ready to gain control of Egypt once and for all.

The true story:

Tutankhamun was an Egyptian Pharaoh who ruled from 1332-1323 BC. While history has pieced together the king’s story as best they can, we know for sure that the man implemented massive change while in charge, including a shift in the people’s religion.

Coming soon to SBS On Demand.

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