BBC’s “The Game” by Toby Whithouse, starring Brian Cox, is a must-see if you like your spy drama closer to “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, even though it does have its action scenes. Set in Britain in the early 1970s, the six-part series follows MI5 as they desperately attempt to prevent a KGB operation which they believe will have history changing implications for Britain.
The cast is superb, with Paul Ritter in particular standing out as the repressed deputy head of MI5. Tom Hughes plays Joe Lambe, a top MI5 operative embroiled in the case. If anything, Hughes’ male model good looks provide one of the more unbelievable parts of the show. Would MI5 really hire someone so conspicuous? As a female friend of mine pointed out, every time he appeared on screen she couldn’t resist shouting out “You’re too good looking!” Having said that, his actual performance is just as good as the rest of the cast. No himbo he.
The show looks superb, managing to look both modern and 70s dated at the same time, with MI5’s tacky, modern and brutalist headquarters in particular of note, and the IPCRESSesque soundtrack by Daniel Pemberton is a cracker, especially the main theme.
There’s just enough hint of humour in it to endear you to the characters, and also, although it has that cynicism of all these sort of shows, the team come across as genuine patriots. The Soviet plot is big and gripping, and it is refreshing to see a spy show not bogged down by technology for once.
Seriously hope the BBC commission a second series. These are characters and a setting we’d like to see more of.