London Spy: A Review

BBC has broadcast the first of five parts of London Spy. During build-up to this first episode, all kinds of allegations were thrown about by all kinds of people, mainly because the main characters are all gay, I suppose. Now the real thing is out and open to all to assess, I hope we can get back to what really counts. I for my part was entertained and impressed. The latter is mainly due to the work of director Jakob Verbruggen.

Ben Wishaw and Edward Holcroft in
London Spy


BBC hasn't spared expenses for the mini-series of London Spy. Penned by Tom Rob Smith (author of award winning Child 44), the cast is on the star studded side with namely Ben Wishaw and Edward Holcroft in leading roles. And while director Jakob Verbruggen doesn't ring any bells with me, his way of showing the story in this first part seems well suited to Smith's writing style.

Verbruggen dispensed with any cheap voyeurism into a gay joint, instead showed Ben Wishaw going in and coming out. These few seconds told all you needed to know about how the party had been going. Most of the rest of the episode is in keeping with this style. There is one exception; a steamy sex scene which is entirely unnecessary for the understanding of the story and accordingly has been cut by the director in a way that it can be cut out without loosing anything important at all.

Ben Wishaw as Danny (and not the spy from the title) makes the best of a vulnerable young man gone adrift in the big city. He meets uptight and closeted Alex (who says his name is Alex, but Scotty says it's Alister) played by Edward Holcroft who might or might not be the spy from the title. Boy from South of the Thames working in a DYI store meets guy working North of the Thames in one of the largest spy centers of the world and earning accordingly.

The clash of North and South London is subtly shown over a breakfast table thanks to the author. But to show up the huge difference in world view by the two men takes up a lot of time, and justifiably so. It might also make you think about your own expectations in life when you watch it.

Without spoiling it, at the end of the episode you are left with the feeling that just about anyone with a speaking part in the drama had been lying with the exception of Danny who hasn't got a clue what is going on. It makes you look forward to the next episode just for that, quite apart from Ben Wishaw and Edward Holcroft.

Further reading
Brideshead Revisited, The Movie
Eye Candy For Mojo
The Royals: Not Bad Enough

Ben Wishaw

Ben Wishaw

Ben Wishaw
Edward Holcroft

Ben Wishaw

Ben Wishaw
Ben Wishaw