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Danny Boy: the true story behind the BBC Two drama

Find out all about real-life soldier Brian Wood and his fight to clear his name

Eve Crosbie

This year has delivered us some great TV so far, and the trend is set to continue with BBC Two's new television film Danny Boy, which premieres on Wednesday night.

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The one-off drama stars Derry Girls and Game of Thrones actor Anthony Boyle as a British soldier, accused of war crimes in Iraq. But is Danny Boy based on a true story? Find out here…

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WATCH: Watch the trailer for BBC Two's new drama Danny Boy ​​​​​​

Danny Boy tells the story of real-life soldier Brian Wood, who was falsely accused of killing and torturing civilians and prisoners while serving in the Iraq War.

He was just 24 years old when he fought in what's now thought of as one of the fiercest battles of the Iraq war - the Battle of Danny Boy. Named after a nearby British checkpoint, the battle which took place on 14 May 2004 saw members of the Prince of Wales Regiment attempt to rescue a patrol of fellow British troops who had been ambushed by enemy soldiers. 

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The real-life Brian Wood appearing on Good Morning Britain in 2017

While no British troops died in the battle, nearly 30 Iraqi insurgents were killed. For his part in the battle, Brian was awarded the Military Cross for bravery.

But when he returned home, he was informed that there were disturbing allegations against himself and his regiment and he subsequently found himself embroiled in one of Britain's biggest ever public investigations, the Al-Sweady Inquiry.

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Brian faced a years-long inquiry into what happened at the Battle of Danny Boy

A team of human rights lawyers led by Phil Shiner (portrayed in the show by Toby Jones) accused Brian and his fellow soldiers of terrible war crimes. Years earlier, Phil had successfully brought the UK government to account for the shameful killing of an Iraqi civilian by British troops and was under the impression that similar abuse took place at Danny Boy.

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However, it simply wasn't the case and after a long and expensive investigation, Brian was eventually cleared of all charges. It even turned out that some of the claims against him and his regiment had been "the product of deliberate lies" by Phil and his team.

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Toby Jones plays lawyer Phil Shiner in the BBC Two drama

In an interview with Esquire, Brian opened up about the traumatic experience, saying: "Being awarded the Military Cross was one of the proudest days of my life, but then to have my integrity put into question five years later was awful."

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Meanwhile, actor Anthony has revealed that while he initially did not want to meet the soldier ahead of filming, he changed his mind and found it extremely enlightening.

"We spoke for about eight hours straight. That man has been through things not many people on the planet have, so to hear him speak was endlessly fascinating," he told the BBC.

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