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Homeland's TV plot 'ridiculous' says ex-hostage

FORMER hostage John McCarthy has voiced his concern over violent scenes in Homeland, the hit drama about a US war hero turned by al-Qa'ida, and dubbed part of the show's plot "ridiculous".

THE US drama returns on RTE tonight with a second series, having scooped a clutch of Emmy awards, including a best actor gong for Damian Lewis.

Lewis, who plays US marine Nicholas Brody, has said he took inspiration for his character from An Evil Cradling, Brian Keenan's book on the four-and-a-half years he was held hostage in Lebanon by terror group Islamic Jihad.

Belfast-native Keenan's cellmate for much of that time was British journalist McCarthy, who was taken at gunpoint from a Beirut street in 1986. McCarthy hinted that he disapproved of the scenes in Homeland, where Brody, who returns to the US as an al-Qa'ida sleeper agent having been held captive in Iraq, appears to have flashbacks of beating a fellow marine to death.

He said: "My concern is that, with the flashbacks and hints and really horrible violence we see, his conversion is almost like titillation."

He said of the flashback scenes: "It all seems so mad, the whole bloody plot. It seems ridiculous.

"But watching someone being beaten to death in that way, even in the fairly snippety bits I've seen -- it is absolutely grotesque and makes your stomach churn.

"I do fear we're not really appreciating the absolute horror of what someone's going through there."

McCarthy, who was debriefed by MI6 and the CIA when he returned to Britain, said the scenes showing Brody being questioned by the CIA did not ring true and were "an unrealistic portrayal of somebody re-entering society".

He said of being a hostage: "We were beaten up, kept in a darkened room underground. We were chained and made to wear blindfolds.

"We were torture victims, but there was no identification with their aims...We saw the situation in Lebanon....But that didn't make us support what they were doing in any way. That simply didn't happen."

The second series of Homeland starts tonight on RTE2 at 9pm