Are Edgar Janssen and John Bailey-Brown Based on Real People? Is Cheapside Firm an Actual Drug Trade Network?

Apple TV+’s thriller series ‘Hijack’ revolves around the hijacking of Flight KA29, which travels from Dubai to London. A group of anonymous hijackers takes control of the flight, forcing corporate negotiator Sam Nelson to find a way to save himself, his fellow passengers, and the crew members. In the fifth episode of the series, the people behind the hijackers reveal that they ordered the hijack to demand the release of Edgar Janssen and John Bailey-Brown from prison. The home and foreign secretaries of England discuss the demand, making the viewers wonder whether Edgar and John are based on real people. Well, let us share everything you need to know about the same!

Edgar Janssen and John Bailey-Brown Are Not Real People

Edgar Janssen and John Bailey-Brown are not based on real people. The two characters are fictional, just like the narrative of the show. ‘Hijack’ was conceived when co-creator George Kay and lead performer and executive producer Idris Elba tried to create an “impactful” series. They both then decided to develop a series based on a flight hijacking. As far as the thriller genre is concerned, it is significant that the hijackers have a strong motive to hold hundreds of passengers hostage while dealing with the authorities of multiple countries, which might have led Kay to conceive Edgar and John.

Kay conceived Edgar and John as two international criminals who have unignorable influence on the European, or even international for that matter, drug trade. They are the heads of an organized crime syndicate, whose operations are not limited to England, which justifies the hijackers’ decision to hijack an international flight, forcing England to deal with the pressure of explaining the predicament to other countries located in the route of Flight KA29. Kay succeeds in depicting the threat of the hijackers and their potency by creating Edgar and John as two highly vicious criminals.

Along with the hijacking, the thriller series also focuses on the bureaucratic and diplomatic angles of such a crime. Through the creation of two international criminals, Kay succeeds in exploring the English government’s dilemma of choosing between the lives of over two hundred citizens and the consequences of releasing two highly dangerous criminals. Such a conflict adds stakes to the narrative of the series, making it more engaging and captivating. Therefore, Edgar and John can be considered as the “tools” Kay uses to make the hijacking authentic and add tension to the narrative of the series.

Stuart and his group hijacking the flight for the release of Edgar and John from prison is similar to the real-life hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight IC-814 in December 1999. Pakistan-based extremist group Harkat-ul-Mujahideen reportedly hijacked the flight and demanded the release of Pakistan-based terrorists Masood Azhar, Omar Sheikh, and Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar from Indian prisons. However, despite the similarities, Edgar and John seemingly don’t have any connection to the individuals involved in the same real-life incident.

Cheapside Firm is Entirely Fictional

Cheapside Firm is not based on a real drug trade network. Like Edgar and John, the drug trade network they had been maintaining before their arrests is also fictional. One of the main conflicts protagonist Sam Nelson faces while dealing with the hijackers is that they are part of a network that’s threatening the lives of his loved ones. When he learns that Stuart and his group are only a small part of a big crime syndicate, Sam feels constrained, forcing him to seek safer ways to save the flight and his family at the same time.

‘Hijack’ becomes engrossing when Sam has to deal with such a powerful crime syndicate with the resources available inside the flight. Kay conceived the Cheapside Firm to serve this central conflict of the series. The international drug trade network’s existence makes the hijackers more potent than Sam’s initial calculations, which is a significant development in the narrative. Although the network is fictional, the co-creator must have been inspired by the history of several real-life British crime syndicates, ranging from the Clerkenwell crime syndicate to the Cheetham Hill Gang, to conceive the Cheapside Firm.

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