This is the shocking true story behind new ITV crime drama Honour

Monday, 28th September 2020, 4:03 pm
Updated Monday, 28th September 2020, 4:03 pm
The drama is based on the real life story of Banaz Mahmod (Photo: ITV)

Honour is a new drama from ITV which tells the true story of Banaz Mahmod, who was murdered by her family in an “honour killing” in 2006.

The series, written by Gwyneth Hughes and directed by Richard Laxton, comes in two parts and focuses on the investigation into her death, and the police failures in the run up to her murder.

This is everything you need to know.

What is Honour about?

Honour is a crime drama that explores the real life story of 20-year-old Banaz Mahmod who was murdered by her family in a so-called “honour killing”.

The story focuses on DCI Caroline Goode and her determined search to discover what happened to Banaz.

The two-part drama was written by Gwyneth Hughes, also known for her writing work on Vanity Fair, Doing Money, Silent Witness and Dark Angel.

Hughes said: “Banaz Mahmod met her brutish death on the orders of her own father and uncle, which I find profoundly unsettling.

“This story shows the sheer heroism and dedication of the police officers who hunted down her killers.

“Caroline Goode and her team felt real love for this girl they’d never met. I found their unusual warmth and humanity deeply moving.”

The series is directed by Richard Laxton, known for his work on TV shows such as Mrs Wilson, Mum, River and Him & Her.

What is the true story of Banaz Mahmod?

Banaz Mahmod was a 20-year-old Iraqi Kurdish woman from South London who was murdered in 2006 in a so-called “honour killing” ordered by her father and uncle.

At age 17, Banaz had been forced into an arranged marriage with a man from Qaladiza, who was 10 years older than her and extremely abusive.

Throughout her marriage, Banaz reported to the police that she had been raped and beaten on numerous occasions.

While her family were aware of the abuse that she endured, they told her that leaving her husband would bring shame upon them.

However, Banaz eventually left after two years and returned to the family home in 2005.

Banaz then embarked on a relationship with someone of her own choosing, Rahmat Sulemani.

However, Banaz’s uncle, Ari Agha Mahmod, and father, Mahmod Babakir Mahmod, disapproved of her actions, and on 2 December 2005, agreed that Banaz should be killed for bringing shame upon the family.

Banaz actually went to the police prior to her death to seek help after she learned of her family’s plan to have her killed.

However, the officers who interviewed her didn’t believe her, with one dismissing Banaz as being melodramatic.

On the morning of 24 January 2006, Mohamad Marid Hama, Mohammed Saleh Ali and Omar Hussain arrived at Banaz’s house after her parents left in the morning.

Banaz was subjected to more than two hours of rape and torture before she was strangled to death.

Her body was then put in a suitcase, taken to a house in Birmingham and buried in the garden before being discovered three months later.

It wasn’t until Rahmat Sulemani, Banaz’s boyfriend, reported her missing on 25 January that the police began to investigate.

Interviews with her parents and uncle exposed inconsistencies in their stories and the investigation was eventually taken over by the Metropolitan Police Homicide and Serious Crime Command, led by DCI Caroline Goode.

Banaz’s father, uncle and other suspects were arrested, however all were uncooperative.

Banaz’s father and uncle were both sentenced to life in prison in 2007 for organising the murder, and Mohammed Saleh Ali and Omar Hussain received minimum custodial sentences of 22 and 21 years, respectively, in 2010.

Mohamad Marid Hama was also handed a life sentence.

Who stars in Honour?

Newcomer Buket Komur plays Banaz Mahmod, the young woman murdered by her own family.

Rhianne Barreto (Hanna, Dixi) stars as Bekhal Mahmod, the older sister of Banaz who ran away from home prior to her sister’s murder. She testified for the prosecution during the trial.

Moe Bar-El (The Bureau, Tehran) plays Rahmat Sulemani, the boyfriend of Banaz and the man she left her abusive husband for.

Umit Ulgen (Doctor Strange, The Tunnel) plays the father of Banaz and Selva Rasalingam (Eastenders, Skyfall) stars as Banaz’s uncle.

Keeley Hawes (Line of Duty, Bodyguard) stars as DCI Caroline Goode, who was the real-life former Scotland Yard detective who investigated Banaz Mahmod’s murder.

Other detectives include Mark Stanley (Criminal: UK, White House Farm) as DS Andy Craig, Michael Jibson (1917, Quiz) as DS Stuart Reeves, Robby Haynes (Southcliffe, Black Mirror) as police officer Ashforth and Karen Sampford (The Split, Military Wives) as DS Judy Bakewell.

Alexa Davies (White House Farm, Detectorists) plays Keilly Jones, an analyst working on the police investigation into the disappearance and muder of Banaz.

Is there a trailer?

ITV released a trailer for the drama on 10 September.

It shows various scenes taking place in courtrooms and police stations as the truth behind Banaz’s disappearance unravels.

Her boyfriend, Rahmat Suleami, can be seen pleading with the police to find her, saying: “We gave them these names, and now she’s gone, you must find her, please.”

As the trailer draws to an end, DCI Goode says: “I care very much about Banaz, and I will not rest until I bring her killers to justice.”

What controversy has there been about Honour?

Banaz’s sister, Pyazee, previously spoke out against the script, saying that by choosing to focus on DCI Goode’s story, the drama fails to “honour” Banaz.

Payzee told the BBC last year: “It doesn’t really sit too well with me that that’s the angle they chose to go with because that’s not Banaz’s story, that’s somebody else’s story.

“This is about somebody who lost her life very tragically and it’s not about someone getting to tell their story. I don’t believe it’s honouring Banaz.”

Screenwriter Vinay Patel also tweeted about the show, writing: “I have masses of respect for Gwyneth Hughes, she’s a terrific writer. Just the framing on this makes me deeply uneasy, especially since the police did not take Banaz seriously when she came to them for help weeks before her murder.”

Writer Furquan Akhtar also tweeted: “ITV have announced a drama about Banaz Mahmod. An Iraqi Kurdish Muslim woman who was the victim of a so called “honour” killing. It shifts the story from being about her to the white detective who “got her justice”. The project has a white lead, writer and director.”

When can I watch it?

Honour is on TV over two nights, with the first episode being released on Monday 28 September and the second episode aired on Tuesday 29 September.

Both episodes will air at 9pm on ITV and both are around an hour long.

If you miss either episode of the two-part series, they will be available on the ITV Hub.

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title Yorkshire Evening Post