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Traffik is a 1989 British television serial about the illegal drugs trade. Its three stories are interwoven, with arcs told from the perspectives of Afghan and Pakistani growers, dealers and manufacturers, German dealers, and British users. It was nominated for six BAFTA Awards, winning three. It also won an International Emmy Award for best drama.

The 2000 crime drama film Traffic, directed by Steven Soderbergh, was based on this television serial. In turn, the 2004 American television miniseries Traffic was based on both versions.[1][2]



The 1989 six-part serial was produced by Britain's Channel 4, written by Simon Moore and directed by Alastair Reid. In the United States, it first aired on Masterpiece Theatre in 1990.


  • Bill Paterson as Jack Lithgow, a Scottish Home Office minister in the United Kingdom government engaged in combating heroin importation from Pakistan.
  • Julia Ormond as his drug addicted daughter Caroline.
  • Juraj Kukura as Karl Rosshalde, a German drug smuggler.
  • Lindsay Duncan as Rosshalde's English wife Helen.
  • Fritz Müller-Scherz and Tilo Prückner as the German detectives attempting to bring down Rosshalde with the help of informer Jacques Ledesert (Peter Lakenmacher)
  • Jamal Shah as Pakistani opium poppy grower Fazal, who is evicted from his land as a result of policies encouraged by the British government.
  • Talat Hussain as Pakistani drug lord Tariq Butt, the supplier of Rosshalde's European heroin network.
  • Rahat Kazmi
  • Latif Kapadia

Episode listEdit

No. Title Original air date
1"The Farmer"June 22, 1989 (1989-06-22)
2"The Addict"June 26, 1989 (1989-06-26)
3"The Criminal"July 3, 1989 (1989-07-03)
4"The Chemist"July 10, 1989 (1989-07-10)
5"The Politician"July 17, 1989 (1989-07-17)
6"The Courier"July 24, 1989 (1989-07-24)


The miniseries currently has an average rating of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes.[3] Writer Suan C. Boyd acknowledges the miniseries for giving different perspectives of the global war on drug trade, going as far as to claim that Traffik is the only film sample that includes the poppy grower in depth.[4]

Home VideoEdit

The entire miniseries was released on DVD on June 26, 2001 by Acorn Media.[5]


  1. ^ Lim, Dennis (27 September 2009). "'Traffik,' British miniseries" – via LA Times.
  2. ^ Yannis Tzioumakis (7 March 2012). Unknown. Edinburgh University Press. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-7486-6453-5.
  3. ^ "Traffik".
  4. ^ Susan C. Boyd (September 2009). Hooked: Drug War Films in Britain, Canada, and the United States. University of Toronto Press. p. 178. ISBN 978-1-4426-1017-0.
  5. ^ Kirkwood, Kyra (7 May 2001). "It's Not the Oscar-Winning 'Traffic' -- but Acorn Media's 'Traffik' Is the Original". Archived from the original on 28 May 2001. Retrieved 8 September 2019.

External linksEdit