TV UK TV

Traffik (Channel 4 1990, Bill Paterson, Lindsay Duncan)

Traffik

Thriller serial, devastating in its portrayal of the world wide drug problem, Traffik is a superb piece off television drama. Bill Paterson headlines as Jack Lithgow, a British government minister working in Pakistan to try and secure a financial aid package that would help eradicate poppy production, meanwhile his own daughter (played by Julia Ormond) back in England is fast becoming a heroin addict, over in Hamburg the police there “persuade” a known drug trafficker to spill the beans over some names, one of whom is a millionaire called Kurt, following his arrest his wife Helen (played to perfection by the always brilliant Lindsay Duncan) takes over his vile trade.. Back in Pakistan drug tzar Tariq Butt is using his new assistant Fazal to take his business to even greater heights.

Stunning, heart breaking and totally unmissable Traffik is definitely one of the best dramas of the 90’s, so good it inspired not just a US remake which switched the action to Mexico instead of Pakistan but also a big budget movie version, both of which pail by comparison. Bill Paterson is awesome as the minister whose life begins to crumble around him as he realises how close to home the drug problem is and we’ve yet to see Lindsay Duncan be anything less than outstanding.

Writer Simon Moore’s script manages to intertwine a theme of huge scope with the personalised affects of what heroin does to a person, showing the global drugs trade for what it is and at the same showing how it affects all walks of life. The series was repeated on Channel 4 in 2001 24 April – 8 May – with two episodes shown each week.

production details
UK / Channel 4-Picture Partnership / 1x120m-e 4x60m-e / 22 June – 17 July 1990

Writer: Simon Moore / Music: Tim Suster / Producer: Brian Eastman / Director: Alistair Reid

cast
BILL PATERSON as Jack Lithgow
LINDSAY DUNCAN as Helen
JAMAL SHAH as Fazal
TALAL HUSSAIN as Tariq Butt
GEORGE KUKURA as Karl
JULIA ORMOND