Was our man in Uzbekistan the real inspiration for Beeb's new comedy Our Men?

 

Meet Keith Davis, the new British Ambassador of oil-rich Tazbekistan, who struggles to hold his marriage together amid a sea of corruption, hard liquor and flirtatious women.

He's the fictional star of Our Men, a new BBC comedy starring Peep Show's David Mitchell and Robert Webb.

But Craig Murray, the UK's former representative in Uzbekistan, whose tenure ended amid lurid headlines, has questioned whether his experiences have been used as source material for the comedy.

Produced by the team behind the award-winning BBC2 comedy Rev, the series stars Mitchell as a rising diplomatic star, awarded a posting which could make or break his career.

Arriving in the newly oil-rich former Soviet territory, Davis comes face-to-face with the dictatorial President Kairat, known as The Prez.

With the Foreign Office urging the Embassy to pick up lucrative business deals, Davis must convince Kairat to give the UK a major helicopter contract – while gently chiding him for his appalling human rights record. Negotiations are usually conducted over lethal vodka drinking sessions in the President's hunting yurt. The scenario is familiar to Murray, once a high-flyer with a taste for women and whisky, who was removed from his post by the Foreign Office in 2004, after exposing cases of torture and murder sanctioned by the US-funded regime of the real Uzbek President, Islam Karimov.

The fictional Tazbek embassy compound is a hotbed for lust and rivalry. Temptations include Natalie, the beautiful Uzbek head of communications, while the ambassador's long-suffering wife is left to make small talk with dull visiting EU bureaucrats. Murray's posting took an unexpected turn when he left his wife for a young Uzbek woman he met in a lap dancing club and moved her into the Embassy. He was accused of "hiring dolly birds" to work in the visa department, approving visas for local girls in exchange for sex and drinking on the job. However the disciplinary charges were dismissed and he was exonerated by a tribunal.

Murray published a memoir of his experiences, Murder in Samarkand, which Paramount at one point intended to turn into a feature film starring Steve Coogan. Murray told The Independent: "This certainly has a very familiar ring to it. The scenario has similarities to my book. There may be an infringement issue for Baby Cow (Coogan's production company) which owns the screen rights."

However Murray added: "I'm a believer in free speech and a great fan of David Mitchell, so I'm not too upset. There certainly were comedic moments in Uzbekistan but the issue s of torture and rendition were serious."

But comparisons between Murray's experiences and Our Men, which airs next year, are coincidental, according to Robert Webb, who plays the Embassy's deputy head of mission. He said: "It's sort of Yes, Prime Minister meets Spooks at a bad disco and Yes, Prime Minister is a bit sick on Spooks, but Spooks doesn't mind. It's like that."

Murray, 53, who married his Uzbek lap dancer, stood for Parliament on a human rights platform and is one of Julian Assange's most prominent supporters. He was criticised after questioning the "conduct" of one of two women behind the sexual assault allegations laid against the WikiLeaks founder. On Newsnight, Murray named one of the alleged victims, arguing that her details were already in the public domain. He was censured by the Swedish National Prosecutor's Office.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week