“We researched about a year and a half; it’s difficult to speak about the details of that research,” Peter Kosminsky says of  National Geographic Channel’s The State.

NatGeo and Channel 4 partnered on the four-part drama from writer/director Kosminsky (Wolf Hall) chronicling the fact-inspired fictional story of four British men and women who join ISIS in Raqqah, Syria. The series is based on research and first-hand accounts compiled by Kosminsky.

“Everything actually took place in real life; we have not invented any incidents, just composited the incidents,” he told reporters attending TCA.

“This is a very live topic. Our job as dramatists is to hold a mirror up to society. I don’t think we do a particular service to those who have suffered” ISIS’ atrocities, to say “they’re all lunatics, they’re all insane,” Kosminsky said of some current political rhetoric on the subject.

“The reality is, it’s not that simple,” he said, adding he hopes the project is “some kind of antidote to simplistic” thinking on the subject.

“There is no common pattern,” he said of people who have traveled from the West to join ISIS. Inductees cross demographics he said, but “obviously it’s slanted toward younger people.” Economic backgrounds run the gamut. The only thing research has drawn conclusively, he said is that ISIS propaganda seems most attractive to recent converts or those born Muslim who have only recently “rediscovered” their faith. “It seems the deeper your knowledge is, the less likely you’ll be tempted to travel to Syria.”

“We’re not making a show about radicalization,” he clarified. “We’re making a show about the daily lives of the people who went to Syria. What do you do? What do you eat?”

The State is produced by Archery Pictures and is set to premiere next year on Channel 4 in the UK and on the National Geographic Channel in the rest of the world.