February 17, 2015 - 7:00 AM
TORONTO - It's 1942 and a group of Allied agents are training at a top-secret facility — not in Europe, but on the shores of Lake Ontario.
The premise behind the new CBC series "X Company" stems from a part of Canada's Second World War history that many don't know about, say the stars.
"It really is this thing to be proud of for Canadians," said Dustin Milligan, who was born in Yellowknife and played Ethan Ward on CW's "90210."
"In a lot of ways, modern espionage, modern spy craft was developed in Canada."
Debuting Wednesday, "X Company" centres on Camp X, which was a spy school on the Whitby-Oshawa border.
The facility trained hundreds of secret agents to work behind enemy lines. It also had a state-of-the-art telecommunications centre.
Milligan plays Tom Cummings, an American advertising expert who specializes in propaganda and manipulation.
His co-stars include Evelyne Brochu as Aurora Luft, a French-Canadian/Jewish-German journalist who is recruited into Camp X after joining the Resistance in France.
Connor Price plays Harry James, the youngest of the spies who acts as the radio operator and explosives expert.
The five agents at the training centre were plucked from their everyday lives to become spies and their vulnerabilities show while they're in the field.
"They're not perfect and they're not superheroes," said Montreal-born Brochu, who plays a French scientist on the hit series "Orphan Black."
"They are heroes, though, and to me that's extremely relatable."
The other spies are played by Jack Laskey and Warren Brown.
Other cast members include "Flashpoint" star Hugh Dillon as the leader of the camp and Lara Jean Chorostecki as the leader of the all-female staff of the telecommunications centre.
Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern created and wrote the series, which is a Canadian-Hungarian co-production that was shot over three months in Budapest.
In the first episode, the spies are in France. As they embark on a dangerous mission, viewers also see the perspective of the Nazis.
"Our show has this really unique way of painting even the guys, seen as the villains, in a light of humanity," said Price, a Toronto native whose credits include the series "The Dead Zone" and the film "Good Luck Chuck."
"You see their backstory, you see their motives — they're even justified in a way. So as you're watching it, you're torn between two sides, as crazy as it is.
"The viewing experience becomes much more personal as you relate to these real people in this real situation."
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015