A pre-title sequence shows Saddam watching the broadcast of US President George W. Bush March 2003 final ultimatum on him and to his sons to leave Iraq within 48 hours or face military attack . As the bombing of Baghdad commences, Saddam’s family quickly pack and flee the presidential palace in Baghdad.
1979: Summer sees then Vice President Saddam Hussein gather his inner circle for his daughter Hala’s 7th birthday party. Amongst the group are Ba'athist Party members. Saddam, fearing the increasing power of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran and a proposed union with Syria, instigates the overthrow of President al-Bakr. The newly-appointed President Saddam Hussein of Iraq orders his half-brother Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti to initiate a bloody purge of the Ba'ath Party leadership to wipe out "traitors". Saddam himself executes his closest friend and ally Adnan Hamdani as a show of strength. The Islamic Dawa Party rock Baghdad with a series of terrorist attacks while Saddam is on a hunting trip in Tikrit with his wife Sajida Talfah and son Uday.
Saddam attempts to maintain good relations with the U.S. as he takes his country into the Iran–Iraq War, while beginning an affair with married school teacher Samira Shahbandar. He also orders the execution of two top Iraqi generals after a military defeat at Al-Muhammarah (Khorramshahr) and begins to turn against Barzan following the death of their mother, putting the arranged marriage of Saddam's daughter, Raghad, with Barzan's son, Mohammed, in jeopardy. After Saddam narrowly survives an assassination attempt in the Dawa stronghold of Dujail, Barzan fears for his own life and razes the city in retribution. Despite his pleas with Saddam not to dishonour him, Barzan is exiled to Switzerland and Saddam marries Raghad to Hussein Kamel al-Majid instead, to form an alliance with his late father's al-Majid clan. Hussein Kamel takes over Barzan's post and becomes Saddam's new Iraqi Special Republican Guard leader.
“Don’t tell me about the law. The law is anything I write on a scrap of paper.” Saddam Hussein. The intimate world of Saddam Hussein and his closest inner circle is revealed in House Of Saddam – a gripping four-part drama for BBC Two that charts the rise and fall of one of the most significant political figures in recent history. House Of Saddam offers a fresh perspective on the dictator, his relationships and his actions behind closed doors, by retelling events from inside the very heart of the regime. Beginning in 1979 when Saddam became president of Iraq, it follows the impact of his political ambitions on his oldest advisors, closest friends, family members – and on Saddam himself. Within the walls of his opulent presidential palace respect is interwoven with fear as Saddam exerts control over his allies, his country and its people. As he continues to reign for almost 25 years in the face of mounting internal and external pressures the Iraqi President’s ability to survive is revealed. Eventually, however, the House of Saddam begins to crumble – and its leader becomes increasingly isolated from both the international community, and his inner world.
Co-written by BAFTA award-winning Alex Holmes (Dunkirk) and Stephen Butchard (Vincent), House Of Saddam is based on two years of detailed research including extensive interviews with members of Saddam’s regime, those who worked within his palaces, eyewitnesses and academics. Remaining true to actual events was vital to co-writer and director Alex Holmes, who realised the compelling nature of the story behind the regime. Alex says: “When I looked into Saddam’s story it had many of the qualities of a Shakespeare history play or a gangster movie. He and the people who lived within his orbit – including a rebellious son, a glamorous wife, a disloyal son-in-law, a devoted comrade – seemed to become increasingly disconnected with reality as the years went on, and their actions more incredible to the outside world. House Of Saddam was an opportunity to look into this world behind closed doors. “It also was a chance to examine the political and moral values at play in Iraq, values which gave rise to Saddam Hussein and which he in turn was hostage to. Values like loyalty, strength, honour and pride.
“I was interested in an examination of how Saddam Hussein remained in power for 24 years in spite of being hated by many of his own people and the world. It was a chance to delve into the complex nature of a man with whom many Iraqis had such an ambivalent relationship involving respect and loathing.”
An international cast includes Igal Naor (Rendition, Munich) as Saddam Hussein, Shohreh Aghdashloo (House Of Sand And Fog) as Saddam’s wife Sajida, Philip Arditi (10 Days To War) as Saddam’s oldest son Uday, Said Taghmaoui (Vantage Point, The Kite Runner, La Haine) as Saddam’s half-brother Barzan Ibrahim, and British actress Christine Stephen-Daly (Casualty, Cutting It) as Saddam’s mistress Samira. House Of Saddam was filmed on location in Tunisia in 2007. Roly Keating, Controller, BBC Two says: “House Of Saddam shines a light on the dark and menacing world of Saddam Hussein in an intelligent and compelling way and we are excited to be bringing such a bold series to BBC Two. “The drama will offer audiences an engaging insight into what happened behind closed doors in this world-renowned regime.”
House Of Saddam is a BBC Drama Production and was commissioned for BBC Two by Jane Tranter, Controller, BBC Fiction. Executive Producers are Alex Holmes and Hilary Salmon (The Passion, Five Days, The Long Firm, Shoot The Messenger).