EVERYONE has been talking about the BBC’s superlative The Night Manager, a six-part TV series starring Tom Hiddleston as a former soldier and hotel manager recruited as a spy to gather information on an arms dealer. Holly Lennon explains why it’s must-watch TV
IT’S been one long, dull week since the finale of The Night Manager had us all gripping onto our sofas and considering abandoning our 9-to-5 for the life of a spy. The Night Manager had over six million of us questioning everything from the morality of the secret service to the part Britain plays in the global illegal arms trade. Its thought-provoking storyline, brilliant cast and exotic setting has elevated the six-part BBC drama to must-see status.
Based on the novel by John le Carré, The Night Manager stars Tom Hiddleston as Jonathan Pine, a former soldier now sleepwalking his way through life as a night manager in a Cairo hotel during the Arab Spring. After a chance encounter with the mistress of an Egyptian criminal leaves Pine in control of documents outlining an upcoming transaction, he’s thrust into the dark world of billionaire arms dealer Richard Roper, played by Hugh Laurie, and his gang of posh English yes-men.
Olivia Colman’s earthy presence as underdog intelligence officer Angela Burr prevents the story from drifting off into a Bond-like fantasy land. Colman is a subtle heroine with whom viewers can relate and empathise. On top of being heavily pregnant, she’s also faced with the corrupt double dealings of her colleagues who attempt to sabotage her operation, intimidate and undermine her. Upon receiving documents from Pine, she recruits him to infiltrate Roper’s organisation and bring him down from the inside.
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A glimpse of the next 007?
The series has been overshadowed somewhat by rumours of Hiddleston’s recruitment elsewhere: as Daniel Craig’s successor in the 007 franchise. Blue-eyed Pine is cool, calm and polite with a side of dangerous and, of course, is irresistible to any woman he encounters - making him the ideal candidate. As he delves further into his newfound secret agent persona, viewers are left wondering how murky his hands will get – this sense of moral ambiguity is something Craig mined particularly well, and it’s likely future James Bond films will tap into that.
Bad guys Laurie and Tom Hollander – who plays Roper’s right-hand man, Corky – give the show its menacing edge. After Roper brings Pine into the fold, Corky becomes the black sheep of the family while still longing for the attention of his master. The Pirates of Caribbean actor injects humour into the role, leaving the viewers unsure of whether he’s on the verge of a complete meltdown or has just had a few too many to drink. Laurie, more known for his comedy roles rather than for being a criminal mastermind, takes to the change in character like a duck to water. Roper commands every room with his crumpled (and crumpling) stare, crisp salmon coloured shirts and uppity British accent.
• The Night Manager is available to watch on BBC iPlayer