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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2007, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
C4 pulls TV drama over Iran fears
Scene from The Mark of Cain
Families voiced concern over C4's The Mark of Cain
Channel 4 has postponed a drama about British soldiers in Iraq as the UK waits for the return of 15 Royal Navy personnel captured by Iran.

The Mark of Cain, which was due to be broadcast on Thursday, shows British troops abusing Iraqi detainees.

Channel 4 said it recognised concerns raised by families of the captured crew about the timing of the show.

The network says it will not broadcast the drama until the personnel are "back on British soil".

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday that the personnel, who were captured in the Gulf on 23 March, will be freed as a "gift" to Britain.

Trophy photographs

Speaking shortly before his announcement, Channel 4's drama commissioning editor Liza Marshall said: "We recognise that relatives of those held captive in Iran are concerned that the broadcast of the film at this point might jeopardise negotiations for their release.

"While the channel believes this outcome is unlikely, we are anxious not to add to the extraordinary stresses and concerns they must be experiencing at this time.

"In consultation with the writer and producers, we have therefore decided to delay transmission."

Scene from The Mark Of Cain
The film depicts the life of four young soldiers in Iraq
The Mark of Cain follows four young soldiers as they experience the reality of war for the first time in Iraq.

At the end of their tour of duty they return home with "trophy photos" but when the pictures are discovered their lives are changed forever.

The story echoes real-life events, including the case of three British soldiers who were convicted of abusing Iraqi civilians at Camp Bread Basket, Basra, in May 2003.

But the film-makers have been keen to stress that the drama is not based on this event in particular.

Writer Tony Marchant says the story is based on "about eight" real-life accounts.

"It's entirely fiction," agrees Shameless star Gerard Kearns, who plays Private Mark Tate in the film.

"Tony did a lot of research into the army and the way it works. He interviewed a lot of soldiers."

A Channel 4 statement said the programme had been postponed until 17 May, "subject to the diplomatic stand-off between Britain and Iran being satisfactorily resolved".

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