“HARRY Palmer is an iconic character. The anti-Bond.
“I quickly found myself enamoured with the man, the myth, the legend.
“We’re pawns in a bigger game…I think this story is relevant to today.”
Joe Cole talking to me about his role as reluctant spy Harry Palmer in a stunning new adaptation of Len Deighton’s 1962 novel The Ipcress File.
Written by Oscar-nominated John Hodge, the six part spy thriller filmed in Liverpool and Croatia starts on ITV at 9pm this Sunday (March 6).
Set in 1963 during The Cold War between the West and the Soviet Union just after the Cuban Missile Crisis with the threat of nuclear war still hanging over the world.
Son of a docker Harry finding himself thrown into a world of international espionage on the cusp of the Swinging Sixties where nothing is quite what it seems.
Executive producer Will Clarke said: “It’s spooky how some of the themes of the novel have become more relevant today than they were even 10 or 20 years ago.”
The scripts for this production are some of the very best I have ever read, brilliantly brought to the screen by all involved.
Not least via a cast at the top of its game telling a story that spans the globe with delicious wit, grit, sass and considerable style.
As you can read in the press pack, there are also some fascinating production background stories and links back to the sixties, including to The Beatles.
While among the executive producers are Hilary and Steven Saltzman. Their father produced the 1965 film version with Michael Caine plus two sequels and the first nine James Bond films with Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli.
Director James Watkins told me: “I absolutely love the 1965 film. It’s a classic. I have the original film poster. But this is very different. In that it does enable us to go much more under the surface into the emotions of the characters.
“Also to explore how the world in which we now live came to be. Those winds of change that were blowing through the 1960s in terms of equality, social advancement, feminism and race.
“It’s, hopefully, a twisty, sassy, gripping spy story, but baked within it are these collisions in a world of social mobility. I thought that was really interesting. To have a working-class central character who lives by his wits.
“Harry Palmer is not about his fists. He’s not about his gun. He is the smartest guy in the room.”
You can read my interviews for ITV with Joe Cole (Harry Palmer), Lucy Boynton (Jean Courtney), Tom Hollander (William Dalby), Ashley Thomas (Paul Maddox), Screenwriter John Hodge, Director James Watkins, Costume Designer Keith Madden and Executive Producer Will Clarke at the link below:
Scroll down for more production photos. Click / tap on an individual image to open the gallery in full. With an ITV trailer for the series below that.