Cordon BBC 4 9pm iPlayer


I’m a bit of a cultural snob. I loved Wallander. Then The Killing. And I’d a brief fling with 1874. Now I’ve gone all Flemish and I’m six episodes into Cordon. It’s a very simple premise: what if a disease as contagious as Ebola arrived in a city like Antwerp and the authorities decided to seal off that zone for 48 hours. Then that time frame is extended. Those inside the cordon find that the only laws that apply are the laws of the jungle. Adding to the tension there is a prison inside the zone and the prisoners break out. Food is rationed. People starve. People die. We’re at Day 18 now. All the main players have been on board long enough to establish themselves.

The teacher Katja, for example, is fragile and pretty. She’s caught in the war zone of the cordon when her class visit the Antwerp Institute for Contagious Diseases where the virus originated –or so the authorities have us believe. Katja’s son is entombed with her behind the barricade. She tries to rescue her pupils from a burning bus and has caught the virus.

Katja’s love interest is Jokke. He’s one of the riot police enforcing the cordon that was left on the wrong side after an earlier inciting incident. He links inside and outside the cordon, mainly through the sluice, the name of an area between zones, and is in contact with his best mate, Lex, who leads enforcement of the no-go zone. There’s a two meter, no touching policy behind the zone. Katja and Jokke share an erotic charge whist Jokke is showering with a see-through shower-curtain acting as a giant condom. Flemish sex leaves lots to the imagination.

Lex is also in love. His girlfriend Jana is in the wrong side of the cordon. She’s a computer expert locked in the top of a block with other staff members. She knows about viruses and is extremely cautious.

Dr Cannaerts is the chief surgeon and specialist in the Antwerp Institute for Contagious Diseases. He’s the big hope for a medical breakthrough and vaccine.

Sabbine Lommers is the government official trying to keep a lid on things. She’ll do whatever it takes and is backed by state authority.

Gryspeerts is the burnt-out journalist. He gets another chance in life and is reborn blogging about what is happening inside the cordon. This puts him in a direct path with Sabbine, but he’s found an ally in Lex.

At the end of this series I should be able to spit in Flemish and I’d guess that somehow the shady Lommers is involved in the virus. Truth will out. Not in real life, of course, but on telly. Watch this.