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The Night Manager - TX: n/a - Episode: The Night Manager (No. Ep 1) - Picture Shows: *STRICTLY NOT FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL 00:01HRS, TUESDAY 9TH FEBRUARY, 2015* Jonathan Pine (TOM HIDDLESTON) - (C) The Ink Factory - Photographer: Des Willie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

Wallander (UK) — Killer TV No 23

1495538-low_res-wallanderBBC1, 2008-present

Kurt Wallander holds up his badge – ‘Wallander.’

‘Thought they would have sent a police car. Lights. Flashing.’ – Farmer

‘There was an accident on the Svarte Road. Cars with lights are all taken.’ – Kurt Wallander

Kenneth Branagh, Sarah Smart, Tom Hiddleston, David Warner, Jeany Spark

Identikit: Kurt Wallander, a police inspector and detective in Ystad, Sweden, balances his harrowing caseload with his troubled private life, including tempestuous relationships with his father and daughter.

logosDESPITE THE excellence of the  Swedish version of Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander novels, Kenneth Branagh was eager to try an English-language take on it, and he teamed up with Yellow Bird, Henning Mankell’s own production company for this third version of the character. Trevor Eve, David Morrissey and Clive Owen were all mentioned in connection with the role, but Branagh was a fan of the novels and got the author’s approval. There were cynical media comments before its debut on BBC1 about Brit actors speaking English in the Swedish setting, which entailed mangling place or character names, and of course anglicising Vallander to Wallander with a soft W (producer Simon Moseley thought this wise to avoid the show straying into ‘Ello! ‘Ello! territory). However, once past these incongruities, the series consisted of beautifully produced dramas, filmed on location, and looking terrific, while also offering richly textured stories. Certainly, one of the most visually arresting stories was 2012’s An Event in Autumn, directed by Toby Haynes, who capitalised beautifully on the wintry tone of the short story on which it is based. The director was flattered when Henning Mankell commented [to Barry Forshaw] that his late father-in-law, none other than Ingmar Bergman, might have been impressed. Branagh had a good cast around him too, with Sarah Smart and Tom Hiddleston as his junior colleagues, Saskia Reeves as the woman trying to build a love life with Wallander, and David Warner as his deteriorating father, Povel. The series never came close to achieving an aim stated at the time of the series’ launch of becoming British TV’s new Inspector Morse, but the first stories – Sidetracked, One Step Behind and Firewall – were definitely a cut above most detective shows (personally, I preferred it to Morse, anyway). Branagh was outstanding as the lonely, haunted detective, though the hero’s levels of angst and gloom were becoming monotonous by the time of 2012’s instalments. Hopefully, the character will move on a little for the final fourth series (consisting of The White Lioness and a two-part The Trouble Man), before retiring to rest on its seven (so far) Baftas.

Classic episode: Sidetracked, the very first BBC adaptation mixed a harrowing case (Wallander witnesses a girl setting light to herself) while introducing viewers to the personal angst of the detective (for instance, discovering that his father has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s).

Watercooler fact: Kenneth Branagh is the third actor to play Wallander as well as the third non-Swedish actor to portray famous literary detectives from the country. Walter Matthau played an Americanised version of Per Wahlöö and Maj Sjöwall’s Martin Beck called Jake Martin in The Laughing Policeman, and Derek Jacobi was Martin Beck in Der Mann, der sich in Luft auflöste. Branagh also opted not watch his Swedish predecessors to avoid being swayed by their portrayals.

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