Best new mini-series on TV

The FiveThe Five, written by international best-selling crime fiction author Harlan Coben and coming to Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD on July 4th, is just the latest in a crop of classy TV mysteries that have had viewers hooked in what has to be a golden age for crime TV. Here we take look at The Five and some of its similarly gripping mystery bedfellows to see what keeps audiences coming back…

The Five

Harlan Coben, the internationally best-selling author has sold millions of books around the world and has had a staggering eight consecutive number ones in the New York Times bestseller list, so you’d think he’d know all about putting together an enticing mystery. And you’d be right – The Five delivers one of the juiciest set-ups for a mystery in recent times (the DNA of a young boy who went missing 20-years earlier turns up at a murder scene being investigated by a friend of the missing boy’s brother), and turns it into the televisual equivalent of one of Coben’s un-put-downable page turners. Throw in a superb cast of British rising stars (including Tom Cullen from Downton Abbey, Sarah Solemani from Him & Her and OT Fagbenle from Looking) as well as respected stalwarts like Geraldine James (Utopia) and the overall effect is one of extreme class and quality that stands up alongside some of the big US guns for binge-ability. See our review

The Night Manager

Another author fairly familiar with the top of the bestseller list was behind what has arguably been the biggest UK TV production of recent years, with Tom Hiddleston perfectly capturing John Le Carre’s heroic, eponymous central character alongside a faultless-as-usual Olivia Colman and a never better Hugh Laurie. The twists and turns in the relationship between sort-of double agent Jonathan Pine and the moral black hole that is Laurie’s Richard Roper form the spine of the series, with the mystery element coming as much from the cat and mouse of that relationship as from the slight fear throughout that Pine might be playing everyone to advance his own interests. With stunning cinematography and a drum-taut script, it’s hardly a surprise that both Hiddleston and series director Susanne Bier are both apparently in the running for the next entry into the James Bond franchise. See our review [Read more…]

The Night Manager, Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie

The Night Manager - TX: n/a - Episode: The Night Manager (No. Ep 1) - Picture Shows: *STRICTLY NOT FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL 00:01HRS, TUESDAY 9TH FEBRUARY, 2015* Jonathan Pine (TOM HIDDLESTON) - (C) The Ink Factory - Photographer: Des Willie

Night moves: Tom Hiddleston as Pine

A classy and compelling John Le Carré adaptation

★★★★½ BBC1, Sunday, 21 February, 9pm

IT’S BEEN 25 years since the last John Le Carré novel made it to the small screen, and that was a now forgotten Thames TV version of A Murder of Quality.

Cinema has taken up the British novelist’s work with gusto since then, with five movies being made, including The Tailor of Panama and the dour but well-received Tinker Tailor Solider Spy in 2011.

This new realisation of The Night Manager, which is said to have cost £20m ($30m), could well be the best of the lot. The Beeb seems to have got just about all the casting and production decisions right.

Tom Hiddleston is terrific away from the big-budget pantomime of the Thor films, playing ex-British soldier Jonathan Pine, who is now working as a hotel night manager, a choice position from which to learn the peccadilloes and secrets of rich clientele.

Programme Name: The Night Manager - TX: n/a - Episode: The Night Manager (No. Ep 1) - Picture Shows: Jed (ELIZABETH DEBICKI), Roper (HUGH LAURIE) - (C) The Ink Factory - Photographer: Des Willie

Stinking rich: Jed (Elizabeth Debicki) and Roper (Hugh Laurie)

Hugh Laurie – charm and sadistic evil

This is how he encounters the beautiful Sophie (Aure Atika), mistress of a shady businessman in Egypt, who passes on to Pine documents exposing billionaire philanthropist Richard Roper as a dealer in weapons such as napalm and other illegal ‘toys’.

Roper is played by Hugh Laurie, a million miles here from his buffoonery as Jeeves or the upper-class halfwits of Blackadder. In the trailer, Laurie looks like he might be the weak link in the pivotal role of villain, but he is superb. It’s a flesh-creeping portrayal of charm, intelligence and sadistic evil.

Hiddleston is cool but vulnerable as Pine, who is emboldened to be recruited by British intelligence into spying on Roper after Sophie is attacked for leaking the arms documents to him. [Read more…]

The Night Manager: Tom Hiddleston, Olivia Colman

The Night Manager : Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) and Roper (Hugh Laurie) - (C) The Ink Factory - Photographer: Mitch Jenkins

Watch your back: Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) and Roper (Hugh Laurie)

HERE IS an early glimpse of BBC1’s The Night Manager, the first TV adaptation of a John Le Carré novel in 20 years and which stars Tom Hiddleston, Olivia Colman and Hugh Laurie.

The six-parter focuses on ex-British soldier Jonathan Pine (Hiddleston), who must become a criminal in order to infiltrate the murky nexus between the secret arms trade and the intelligence community.

Quality oozes from this drama (which we’ll preview soon). It’s a co-production with AMC in the States, which made Breaking Bad and Mad Men. In addition to major international stars such as Hiddleston (The Avengers) and Hugh Laurie (House), there is the abundantly watchable Olivia Colman (Broadchurch).

The Night Manager: Corkoran (Tom Hollander), Burr (Olivia Colman), Jed (Elizabeth Debicki), Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston), Roper (Hugh Laurie) - (C) The Ink Factory - Photographer: Mitch Jenkins

In the frame: Roper (Hugh Laurie), Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston), Jed (Elizabeth Debicki), Burr (Olivia Colman), Corkoran (Tom Hollander)

In addition it is directed by Susanne Bier, who won an Oscar for In a Better World, with a script by David Farr, whose credits include Spooks and Hanna.

Le Carré’s novel was published in 1993 and was one of his most acclaimed.

Hugh Laurie says: ‘I loved The Night Manager when it was published, and for more than 20 years have yearned to see it realised on screen. I am now thrilled and honoured to have the frontest of front-row seats. All the moving parts are finely machined – we just have to not mess it up.’

With this crew, that seems unlikely.

The Night Manager is coming soon! Watch this space…

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