The BEST episodes of Once Upon a Time in Iraq

Every episode of Once Upon a Time in Iraq ever, ranked from best to worst by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The best episodes of Once Upon a Time in Iraq!

Documentary examining the realities of war and life under Isis, with unique personal archive from civilians and soldiers from both sides of the conflict. Narrated by Andy Serkis.

Last Updated: 11/29/2023Network: BBC TwoStatus: Ended
22 votes

#1 - Insurgency

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired 7/20/2020

The Iraqi insurgency is examined through Lt Colonel Sassaman’s descent into the darkest regions of his psyche. When Lieutenant Colonel Nate Sassaman arrived in Iraq in 2003, his belief in the task ahead - of delivering democracy and stability to the Iraqi people - was unquestioning. Sassaman was an inspirational leader to his men, and many felt that he was destined one day to become a general. Six months into his tour, caught in the political and literal crossfire of the insurgency, his good intentions and belief systems were shattered. Unprepared for the hostile environment he found himself in, with little support coming from Washington and taking daily attacks from insurgents, Sassaman was pushed to the very darkest regions of his psyche. Alaa Adel was 12 years old in the summer of 2003, when she too was caught in crossfire on the streets of Baghdad. She suffered life-changing injuries when she was hit in the face by shrapnel from one of the first roadside bombs, which were planted by insurgents and intended for American forces. Looking back at that time, both Sassaman and Alaa question the benefits of the war in Iraq. While one struggles with the guilt of their actions, the other lives with bristling resentment and ongoing anger.

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16 votes

#2 - Legacy

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired 8/10/2020

The emergence of ISIS concludes the brutal legacy of the Iraq War.

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18 votes

#3 - Fallujah

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired 7/27/2020

At the start of the Iraq War in 2003, over 600 journalists and photographers are given permission by the US government to follow the war as embedded reporters. Dexter Filkins and photographer Ashley Gilbertson are working for the New York Times when they enter Fallujah with Bravo Company in November 2004. It is the most intense battle of the entire war and the biggest the marines have fought since Vietnam. For the duration of the battle, both journalists live with the marines, filing their stories as they are constantly shot at. Illustrated by thousands of photographs taken by Gilbertson that week, many of them never before published, as well as unseen material taken by the marines themselves, this film takes viewers into the heart of the battle. Gilbertson’s decision to capture an image of an Iraqi sniper shooting from inside a minaret changes not only his life but the lives of the soldiers with him. Nidhal Abed has lived in Fallujah her entire life. On 4 November 2004, her two-year-old son Mustafa is running a high fever. She leaves her home to take Mustafa to the doctors just a few streets away. What happened next ensures their lives too are never the same again. With unique archive of the battle itself, this story is told through the marines, journalists and residents of Fallujah

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25 votes

#4 - War

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired 7/13/2020

As war began, many Iraqis were hopeful. Ahmed Al Bashir, now a renowned comedian, remembers practising his English with US troops before the realities of occupation became clear. Waleed Neysif was 18 when George Bush gave Saddam Hussein just 48 hours to leave Iraq. He was, like many Iraqi teenagers at that time, infatuated by the West. But while many of his generation grew up enjoying songs by the Backstreet Boys, Waleed formed Iraq's first heavy metal band.

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17 votes

#5 - Saddam

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired 8/3/2020

CIA analyst John Nixon is the first person to interrogate Saddam.

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