A FORMER St Augustine’s pupil has landed a lead role in a hard-hitting Channel 4 drama about British jihadis moving to Syria to join ISIS.

Sam Otto has been given his big break by Bafta-winning director Peter Kosminsky in The State, a four-part series which hits TV screens across the country on Sunday.

The 25-year-old plays a character called Jalal, a teenager who joins three other British Muslims who all become radicalised and join the terrorist regime.

Although he may be destined for stardom, Sam was quick to pay tribute to the Trowbridge School for helping him to realise his acting dream.

“This was the single most powerful experience I have ever had,” he said.

“To feel as though I was a part of the telling of an incredibly important story every day was so profound, and being able to play a character of such depth and humanity within this context of acute horror was, as an actor, a wonderful and rewarding challenge.

“I loved drama at school and Ms Porter in particular helped facilitate my applications towards drama school and was very supportive.

“When I read the script for the first time, my heart was in my mouth and I couldn’t take my eyes off the page.

“I knew if Peter, who directed BBC 2 Drama Wolf Hall, could translate that to the screen, as only he could, it was going to be incredibly powerful show, and so I gave everything I could in the audition process to give myself the best chance of being involved.

“In terms of comparison, there quite literally isn’t one, as this was my first screen-acting job. Regardless, it will be very, very hard to beat. The calibre of the content and the personnel on the job was virtually untouchable.”

Sam came to Trowbridge from Bristol at the age of nine and after finishing his studies at St Augustine’s, he went onto Southampton University but after one year he left for Drama Centre London to begin training as an actor.

“There is, perhaps, no subject that is more sensitive right now, and it’s completely understandable that someone would have that initial reaction of this being badly timed in light of recent events in the UK,” he said.

“We filmed for six weeks in Almeria in the south of Spain for location shots, followed by five weeks in Cardiff, where we shot interiors in the Pinewood studios, along with other interior locations around the country.

“We need to understand how ISIS works as a group work if we are ever to tackle the root causes of radicalisation, in order to prevent further tragedies, and that is what The State is attempting to do.

“This is the most crucial fight of our time, and it’s happening as we speak. The State offers a hair-raising glimpse into this dark world, through the gaze of a genius dramatist, and it simply has to be seen.”

Each episode lasts an hour, and the remaining three episodes will air on the subsequent three nights at 9pm.