A Spy Among Friends, a new true-story spy drama about the friendship between Kim Philby and Nicholas Elliot, is coming to ITVX on Thursday 8 December.
The series, which stars Damien Lewis and Guy Pearce amongst others, is an adaptation of Ben Macintyre’s non-fiction book of the same name.
Here’s everything you need to know about A Spy Among Friends.
What’s it about?
A Spy Among Friends is a true-story espionage drama about the friendship between Kim Philby and Nicholas Elliot – two MI6 covert intelligence officers during the early Cold War, one of whom had been lying to the other for over 20 years.
The official ITVX synopsis for A Spy Among Friends explains that “in England in 1963, Nicholas Elliott works for MI6 as an intelligence officer but is left in turmoil when he learns his close friend and colleague Kim Philby had been secretly working as a double agent for the KGB and has defected to the Soviet Union.”
In the latest episode of our Screen Babble podcast, we broke down everything you need to know about ITVX - you can listen to it on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and more.
Who stars in A Spy Among Friends?
Damien Lewis plays Nicholas Elliot, a member of MI6 covert intelligence. Lewis is best known for playing Nicholas Brody in Homeland, as well as for starring in Band of Brothers, Wolf Hall, and Billions.
Guy Pearce plays Kim Philby, a former member of MI6 covert intelligence believed to have been a Soviet double agent. Pearce is perhaps still best known for his stint on Neighbours, but since then he’s appeared in films like Iron Man 3, The Hurt Locker, and Memento. On television, he’s appeared in Jack Irish, A Christmas Carol, and Mare of Easttown.
Anna Maxwell Martin plays Lily Thomas, a member of MI5 investigating just what Elliot did and didn’t know about his best friend the spy. You’ll recognise Anna Maxwell Martin from her roles in parenting comedy Motherland and crime drama Line of Duty, but you might also know her from The Bletchley Circle, Code 404, or Hollington Drive.
They’re joined by Stephen Kunken (Billions, The Handmaid’s Tale) and Adrian Edmondson (Back to Life, The Pact) amongst others.
Who writes and directs?
A Spy Among Friends was developed by Alexander Cary, who writes each episode. Cary is best known for writing episodes of Homeland, Lie to Me, and The Riches; he’s currently next in line to be Viscount of Falkland, which is the senior viscountcy of Scotland.
The series was directed by BAFTA award-winner Nick Murphy (Save Me, Blood, The Awakening), who previously directed Guy Pearce in A Christmas Carol.
Is there a trailer?
Yes, there is! You can watch the trailer for A Spy Among Friends right here.
When and how can I watch it?
All six episodes of A Spy Among Friends will be available to watch as part of a boxset on Thursday 8 December with the launch of ITVX, a new free streaming service.
Internationally, you’ll be able to watch A Spy Among Friends on Britbox.
How many episodes are there?
There are six episodes of A Spy Among Friends, each of which are around an hour long.
Is A Spy Among Friends based on a true story?
Yes, it is! More specifically, the series is based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Ben Macintyre – it uncovers what happened in the years after Kim Philby was exposed as a Soviet spy, and how the UK security services responded.
Some of the story is fictionalised and dramatised, of course – one major change made for this television adaptation is the introduction of Anna Maxwell Martin’s character Lily, who didn’t exist in real life.
What else is coming to ITVX?
ITVX is launching with four new shows immediately: espionage drama A Spy Among Friends, novel adaptation The Confessions of Frannie Langton, YA drama Tell Me Everything, and a feature-length finale to historical comedy Plebs.
In the coming weeks, there are set to be new drama premiers every week, with true crime drama Litvinenko, Vicky McClure thriller Without Sin, and the Succession-esque Riches all arriving across December. ITVX is also set to have a host of ITV archive content, as well as offering exclusive access to hit US shows - you can find a full list of what’s available here.
Why should I watch A Spy Among Friends?
It’s one to check out if you like glossy, big-budget espionage drama – set at the height of the Cold War, covering one of the most famous true stories about spies, it’s absolutely one to watch if you’re a fan of that genre.