The Ipcress File, a new spy thriller starring Joe Cole, is set to begin on ITV on Sunday 6 March at 9pm.
Cole will play Harry Palmer, a role that will be familiar to audiences from a series of films starring Michael Caine in the 1960s – both this series and those films are based on the same novel.
Here’s everything you need to know about The Ipcress File.
What is it about?
The Ipcress File follows Harry Palmer, a British army soldier imprisoned for doing some under-the-table black market deals while serving in Berlin – he’s soon offered the chance to work for British intelligence, however, as an alternative to serving his prison sentence.
Palmer is sent to find a kidnapped nuclear scientist, who appears to have been abducted by a former contact of his.
Technically speaking it’s actually The IPCRESS File. IPCRESS is an acronym, which stands for Induction of Psycho-neuroses by Conditioned Reflex under Stress.
What is it based on? Does it have anything to do with Michael Caine?
The Ipcress File is, originally, a spy novel written by Len Deighton. It was the first of eight novels featuring an unnamed espionage agent – the anonymity of the spy being preserved even from the reader.
When The Ipcress File was adapted into a film in 1965, that anonymity proved difficult to translate – so star Michael Caine suggested “Harry Palmer” as a suitably boring and anonymous name as an alternative. (Much to the amusement, it’s said, of the film’s producer Harry Saltzmann.)
Michael Caine went on to play Harry Palmer in five different movies: The Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin, and Billion Dollar Brain in the 1960s, and then the made-for-TV movies Bullet to Beijing and Midnight in St. Petersberg in the mid-90s. Neither of the former two films were based on Len Deighton novels.
Who stars in the cast?
Joe Cole plays Harry Palmer, the role originated by Michael Caine. You might recognise Cole from Sky’s hit crime drama Gangs of London, or from his role in previous seasons of Peaky Blinders (Cole left Peaky Blinders because it was, as he put it, “Cillian’s show really” – you’ve got to wonder how he feels about The Ipcress File being scheduled opposite the final series of Peaky Blinders).
He’s joined by Lucy Boynton, who plays femme fatale Jean. Boynton is probably best known for her role in Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, where she played Freddie Mercury’s partner,
Tom Hollander, meanwhile, plays Major Dalby, a representative from British intelligence. Hollander is a prolific character actor, who you’ll recognise from all sorts of places – like In the Loop, Us, or About Time – but his role here will most obviously call to mind his previous appearance in the Tom Hiddleston/Hugh Laurie Le Carre adaptation The Night Manager.
The rest of the cast includes Ashley Thomas (Top Boy), Joshua James (Industry), David Dencik (McMafia), and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Avengers: Infinity War) amongst others.
The Ipcress File was written by John Hodge (Trainspotting), and directed by James Watkins (McMafia, Black Mirror).
Is there a trailer?
Yes there is, and you can see it right here.
When and where can I watch it?
The Ipcress File begins on Sunday 6 March at 9pm on ITV. Episodes will continue weekly (it’s not going to be a box-set binge release), and will be available to watch on ITV Hub immediately afterwards.
It will be available at a later date on AMC in the US.
Why should I watch it?
Because it’s a new take on an iconic character, and Tom Hollander is always very watchable.
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