Dec 13, 2013

BBC Plots Cold War Spy Dramas Set in the Seventies

It's not just American television that's getting swept up in the Cold War these days. (See yesterday's news.) The success of FX's 1980s period spy drama The Americans on TV and Tomas Alfredson's 2011 feature version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in theaters have also spurred the BBC to revisit the era of its greatest ever spy series, the original miniseries version of Tinker, TailorDeadline first reported last July that BBC Two ordered a one-off spy drama entitled Legacy from the team behind the 2009 Nelson Mandela telefilm Endgame. Written by Paula Milne (who also scripted the upcoming Sean Penn neo-Eurospy contender The Gunman) and directed by Pete Travis, Legacy is based on a 2001 novel by Alan Judd. Charlie Cox (Stardust) stars as fledgling MI6 agent Charles Thoroughgood, who is ordered to reconnect with Viktor, a Russian diplomat he knew at university (played by Sherlock's Moriarty Andrew Scott) in order to turn him. Both the mission and Viktor prove to be more than they appear, and soon, according to the BBC Two blurb, Charles "is catapulted into a dangerous personal odyssey to uncover the truth but finds himself drawn into a lethal KGB plot to mount an attack within the UK." Meanwhile, he's conducting an affair with the wife of a fellow agent (The Hour's Romola Garai) as his own family history comes back to haunt him. Christian McKay (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and Simon Russell Beale (BBC Radio's Smiley) co-star. Legacy aired in the UK last month as part of their Cold War season, and there is no news yet about a U.S. airdate. Endgame was broadcast stateside on PBS' Masterpiece, so I hope they run Legacy as well. Here's the trailer:

But that's not the only period spy drama cooking at the BBC. Late last year, BBC Cymru Wales announced The Game, a six episode Cold War spy drama from Being Human creator Toby Whithouse (who also penned one of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who, "School Reunion"), and this summer casting was firmed up. Filming is underway and the series is scheduled to air in 2014 on BBC One. Tom Hughes (Page Eight), Brian Cox (The Bourne Supremacy, RED), Paul Ritter (Quantum of Solace), Shaun Dooley (The Woman in Black), Chloe Pirrie (Black Mirror), Victoria Hamilton (What Remains), Jonathan Aris (James Bond videogames) and Judy Parfitt (The Avengers) star. According to the BBC, "when a defecting KGB officer reveals the existence of a devastating Soviet plot, codenamed Operation Glass, the charismatic but paranoid head of MI5, known simply as Daddy (Cox), assembles a secret committee to investigate." In the tradition of such shows, each team member has a unique specialty. Every week the team uncovers a new traitor, another piece of the puzzle that is Operation Glass. I like it! More than just a period version of Spooks, it sounds like something in the vein of Mr. Palfrey of Westminster, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, or possibly even Mission: Impossible. Once again there's no information yet on a U.S. airdate, but I'd be surprised if BBC America doesn't pick this one up.

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