Is Crossfire based on a true story and where is the BBC’s intense Keeley Hawes drama filmed?

You might well be wondering - is Crossfire based on a true story? - after being drawn into the terrifying storyline of this thought-provoking show

Is Crossfire based on a true story? Starring Keeley Hawes as Jo
(Image credit: BBC / Dancing Ledge Productions)

Is Crossfire based on a true story is the ultimate question likely on many fans’ minds after watching the dark events unfolding in this BBC drama.

So far 2022 has proved to be a standout year when it comes to brilliantly gripping and thought-provoking dramas, with everything from The Secrets She Keeps season 2 to Ridley on ITV and The Undeclared War keeping us coming back for more. Now the BBC’s newest drama, Crossfire, has landed and brings every vacationer’s worst nightmare to life. Created and written by the author of Apple Tree Yard, Louise Doughty, in her first original series for TV and is set in a luxurious resort. 

Only this apparent paradise soon becomes anything but when shots ring out across the resort and gunmen take control as they seek revenge. Starring Keeley Hawes as the lead character, Jo, who’s away with her family and friends, Crossfire tells the tale of survival and split-second decisions with long-lasting consequences.

But is Crossfire based on a true story, where is it filmed and how many episodes of the new BBC series are there? We reveal what you need to know...

*Warning: spoilers ahead!*

Episode 1 of Crossfire starring Keeley Hawes as Jo

(Image credit: BBC / Dancing Ledge Productions)

Is Crossfire based on a true story?

Given so many dramas like fellow BBC show, Sherwood, and HBO’s The Staircase, are either inspired by or directly based on real events many fans might be wondering - is Crossfire based on a true story? Though in this case the answer is no as the new series is entirely fictional. The show’s creator and executive producer Louise Doughty previously revealed to Metro.co.uk (opens in new tab) and other publications that she wouldn’t have felt “comfortable” basing Crossfire on real events, though she did research similar horrific incidents. 

Asked whether Crossfire mirrors any similarly tragic true events Louise responded, “I think the first thing to say is how appalling it must be for anyone who has ever experienced something like this. I mean, you know, none of us can begin to imagine how awful that must be. And I think you know, our hearts go out to all of them because it’s just an unspeakable horror really to have to go through.”

“I was very clear that I wanted this to be an entirely fictional story, because I just wouldn’t have been comfortable basing it on a real life event,” she added. “I would have found that too difficult to do. But obviously, I watched a lot of documentaries and I read a lot of survivor accounts, I researched very carefully what has actually happened in these incidents.”

The Crossfire creator reflected on how she “really passionately” about having the show telling the story from the victims’ point of view and that the focus is “very much” on the people on the receiving end of violence rather than the attack itself.

“So, you know, to me that was the whole point of the show is we stay with the victims,” Louise later explained. “We stay with the people on the receiving end and the show is from their point of view, because, you know, we need to honor those experiences and do it as sensitively as we can.”

Episode 1;Abhi (ANNEIKA ROSE);Jo (KEELEY HAWES) in Crossfire

(Image credit: BBC / Dancing Ledge Productions)

The Crossfire creator has also opened up to the BBC (opens in new tab) about how she first got the idea for it and how it explores “human choices” at moments of immense pressure. 

“I was lying on a sun lounger one day in a hotel complex; my family were scattered around the complex. I had one child who was in the pool and one had wandered off somewhere and I couldn't help thinking what if some sort of gun attack happened on the resort at this particular moment. I thought ‘What would I do?” she shared.

Louise expressed her belief that whilst everyone would like to think they would “behave heroically”, the reality would likely be very different as people face impossible choices and challenging situations. 

Jo (KEELEY HAWES) in Crossfire

(Image credit: BBC / Dancing Ledge Productions)

“Which child would I go for? They were both separated. Would I help the people around me; would I only save myself? How would I actually behave?” Louise speculated. “That was the idea for Crossfire. I wanted to write about an ordinary group of people; ordinary holidaymakers from Britain, in a resort hotel like this when such an attack occurs. I wanted to write about the human choices that we all make under pressure and of course the consequences of those decisions that reverberate for years to come.”

So whilst Crossfire isn’t based on a specific, true-life event, Louise Doughty put a huge amount of thought as well careful research into sensitively creating a drama that focuses on ordinary human experiences in the face of unimaginable tragedy. 

Where is Crossfire filmed? 

For so many unmissable dramas the setting is the final piece of the puzzle that brings the chilling storyline to life  - as we’ve seen in everything from Shetland season 7 to The Holiday on Netflix. Crossfire is no exception and it might come as no surprise given that the idea for the show first came to creator Louise Doughty in Tenerife that it was filmed there. 

view of the coast of Tenerife

(Image credit: Eduardo Ramos Castaneda via Getty)

In a behind the scenes clip, The Making of Crossfire, released on the BBC website (opens in new tab), Louise revealed that the Crossfire location was a resort on the south coast of Tenerife. She also shared how the show delves into the “underbelly of the hotel” that guests don’t normally see. 

Sadly for anyone wondering which hotel in Tenerife Crossfire was filmed at, this hasn’t been officially confirmed by the show. However when it comes to the question of where Crossfire is set, the creator told RadioTimes.com (opens in new tab) and other publications that it’s actually set on a smaller, undisclosed island in the area - for a very important reason!

Hotel in Crossfire

(Image credit: BBC / Dancing Ledge Productions)

"We did slightly fake it. Tenerife is a very big island, and it does have armed police officers who would come very quickly, and we needed them to take about an hour,” Louise said. "So we did imply that it's a much smaller island, like Fuerteventura or one of the tiny islands in the Canary Islands, because we needed that rescue could only come by helicopter, and that there were only a couple of local cops on the island."

The switch-up in the Crossfire location where filming took place and the setting allows the drama to have more of a sense of isolation and peril, with any hopes for rescue realistically requiring quite some time and meaning the characters are forced to make difficult decisions alone.

How many episodes of Crossfire are there? 

There are three episodes of Crossfire, airing on consecutive nights on BBC One at 9pm. The Keeley Hawes BBC drama premiered on Tuesday, September 20th and the finale is set to air on Thursday, September 22nd. This means that fans of the new show sadly don’t get to enjoy watching Keeley and her fellow cast members including Harry Potter actor Lee Ingleby and Line of Duty’s Anneika Rose in action for many weeks to come. Though they will get to see Crossfire reach its suspenseful and emotional conclusion without too much agonizing waiting. 

Episode 1;Abhi (ANNEIKA ROSE)

(Image credit: BBC / Dancing Ledge Productions)

Now you know the answer to the ultimate question - is Crossfire based on a true story - and the BBC show's location has been revealed, there's plenty of time to catch-up on all you've missed ahead of the next episode airing.

And if you just can't wait until then, all of the Crossfire episodes are also available to watch on BBC iPlayer now.

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing. Her specialist areas including literature, the British Royal Family and knowing all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and every streaming service out there. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, you can find Emma cooking and watching yet more crime dramas.