Fans of CH4's Homeland may find recent events a little less stranger than ...

A ruthless Russian spy commits murder on the soil of a Western democracy. Meanwhile, shadowy forces harvest the personal data of millions of people and publish fake news stories in a bid to influence votes in the United States and Britain.

Sound like lead items on a TV news bulletin? In fact, these are key plot lines from a television drama with an uncanny ability to predict world events. Fans of US drama Homeland, starring Claire Danes as rogue CIA agent Carrie Mathison and Mandy Patinkin as CIA official Saul Berenson, are amazed at just how close the current series, which continues on Channel 4 tonight, is to reality.

One tweeted: ‘By my estimates, Homeland is only three months ahead of real life.’ Another added: ‘I swear every day that it seems more and more like Homeland has become real life.’ The show’s close relationship with genuine spooks is one reason it is able to stay a step ahead. Producers who began researching the new series in April last year admit that plot lines have been shaped by conversations with serving intelligence officers. ‘What’s going on right now in the intelligence community is exactly what we’re dramatising,’ says Alex Gansa, the show’s head writer.

Here we turn the spotlight on the overlap of fact and fiction.

The agent  

Homeland: Bipolar CIA agent Carrie, Claire Danes may now have committed herself to protecting President Keane but has difficulty looking after herself. Her addiction to prescription drugs worry all those around her.

Bipolar CIA agent Carrie, Claire Danes may now have committed herself to protecting President Keane but has difficulty looking after herself

Donald Trump’s newly appointed Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen

Donald ’s newly appointed Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, right, looks like Carrie (left) and is equally committed to protecting the White House.

Real life: Donald ’s newly appointed Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, right, looks like Carrie and is equally committed to protecting the White House. Nielsen was a senior fellow at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security – and is an expert on cyber issues.

The agitator 

Homeland: Brett O’Keefe, a radio talk show host who has vowed to destroy President Keane, is the programme’s idea of a Donald supporter. O’Keefe, left, played by Jake Weber, uses his show to trash his Left-wing opponents, not caring that his inflammatory words stir up hatred.

Brett O’Keefe, a radio talk show host who has vowed to destroy President Keane

O’Keefe has more than a passing resemblance to Right-wing activist Steve Bannon (pictured)

O’Keefe (left) has more than a passing resemblance to Right-wing activist Steve Bannon (right)

Real life: O’Keefe has more than a passing resemblance to Right-wing activist Steve Bannon, left, who played a key role in Donald ’s election victory. Bannon manipulates the media to propagate his anti-liberal views but, unlike O’Keefe, stays on the right side of the law and would never contemplate employing the tactics used by his fictional counterpart.

The Russian Hit  

Homeland: Former Russian double agent Ivan Krupin ends up ‘swimming with the fishes’ when he questions Russian agent Gromov’s right to kill ‘Americans

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