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Guy Pearce Remembers the Late Helen McCrory on This Morning
by Charlotte Dean | Daily Mail Online | November 30, 2022
Guy Pearce has discussed filming A Spy Among Friends with Damian Lewis shortly after his late wife Helen McCrory‘s death in April last year. The actor, 55, said he could feel the Peaky Blinders actress’ ‘essence’ on set as they filmed the drama together, during an appearance on Wednesday’s This Morning.
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The Elite of One
by Stephanie Bunbury | Sydney Morning Herald | November 30, 2022
For 30 years, Kim Philby worked for the British secret service MI6 while spying for the Soviet Union. He took classified documents home every night from the agency’s archive to be photographed by his handler; he worked diplomatic parties, club smokers and government departments in London and Washington, charming confidences from these intersecting inner circles; he was accused of spying, was investigated, exonerated and then carried on.
“This is the thing that kept striking me,” says Guy Pearce, who plays the debonair Philby in the new series A Spy Among Friends. “Every few days on set I’d think: ‘Thirty years he did this! Thirty years!’ It’s extraordinary.”
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Sony Pictures Television Lands Global Sales for Espionage Thriller
by Mona Tabbara | ScreenDaily | November 30, 2022
A Spy Among Friends has sold to 117 territories for Sony Pictures Television. The series stars and is executive produced by UK star Damian Lewis, with Australian actor Guy Pearce and the UK’s Anna Maxwell-Martin also starring. The Cold War thriller is based on Ben Macintyre’s novel and tells the true story of follows British intelligence officer and KGB double agent Kim Philby, and is co-produced by ITV Studios and Sony Pictures Television. The series director is Nick Murphy.
It launches in the UK on ITVX on December 8, and has been picked up by MGM+ in the US, plus Canada (Prime Video), France (OCS January 3, 2023) and Germany (Deutsche Telekom). Sky Italia will broadcast the series in Italy, Monaco and Malta, and it will also air in India (SonyLIV), New Zealand (TVNZ), the Middle East (BeIN), across Central and Eastern European territories including Poland, Hungary, Czechia, Croatia, and Slovakia (HBO), Greece (Nova) and South Korea (Coupang).
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The Greatest Double Agent of All Time
by Chris Harvey | The Telegraph | November 30, 2022
Friendship, according to the author Ben Macintyre, is the reason why Harold “Kim” Philby remains “the greatest double agent of all time”. The “third man” of the notorious set of Communist spies who met at Cambridge University in the 1930s exploited his closest friends to gift British and American secrets to Moscow, leading to the deaths of hundreds, possibly thousands, over 30 years as a traitor working for the KGB.
One of those friendships, with a man who protected Philby for many years, fellow MI6 officer Nicholas Elliott, is at the heart of a gripping new six-part ITV drama, A Spy Among Friends, based on Macintyre’s book of the same name. Fittingly, it stars Etonian Damian Lewis as Elliott, whose father was a famous headmaster of the school, and Guy Pearce as Philby.
Eton “was a more progressive, sort of democratic place when I was there”, notes Lewis, when I mention that John le Carré, who taught there in the 1950s, described Etonians as “a curse on the earth”. Yet was Elliott responsible in some ways for Philby’s crimes because he vouched for him? Lewis believes he was. “Elliot’s tragic arc is that he loves, adores, admires, and supports a man for his entire life, and defends him at critical points when he might have been exposed.
“And then he is the man that is sent to bring him back in a four-day interview in Beirut” – in 1962, Elliott was dispatched to the Middle East, where Philby was working as a journalist, to secure his confession after the spy had been confirmed as the third man by a Soviet defector. “Elliott is confronted by his greatest friend, his soulmate, his lover to all intents and purposes, platonically, who betrayed him and his country.” He never got over that betrayal.
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by Gingersnap | damian-lewis.com | November 29, 2022
Panel L-R: Anna Maxwell Martin, Damian Lewis, Ben Macintyre, Patrick Spence, Nick Murphy
Damian debuted his new six part series A Spy Among Friends at ITVX Showcase event on Tuesday, November 15, 2022 during a Q&A panel discussion. Joining him was actor Anna Maxwell Martin, author Ben Macintyre, director Nick Murphy and Patrick Spence. Damian told the moderator,
“We just wanted to get in behind the curtain of what an intimate betrayal between two friends [looks like]. It starts very much, and returns to, this friendship. I don’t want to give the end away, but there was a famous 4-day interview set in Beirut, an interrogation, which is the centerpiece of our drama that we come in and out of in a brilliantly orchestrated sort of time jumping way by Alex Cary who adapted Ben’s brilliant book. And that 4-day interrogation is the emotional heart of the show.”
Watch the full-length 12-minute video here. View images from the event here.
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Spectrum Originals Out, MGM+ In
by Peter White | Deadline | November 29, 2022
by Lesley Goldberg | The Hollywood Reporter | November 29, 2022
Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce-fronted drama series A Spy Among Friends has found a new home in the U.S. following Spectrum’s move out of original series. The spy thriller, which is a co-production with UK streamer ITVX, has landed at MGM+, the network formerly known as Epix.
The premium cable network/streamer has picked up domestic rights to the series and it will air in the U.S. in 2023. It comes after the series premiered at the London Film Festival and ahead of its British launch in December.
The six-part series was among the programs that were left without a home after Charter shut down its Spectrum Originals banner following the departure of executive Katherine Pope.
Pope departed cable service Charter to take over as president of indie studio Sony Pictures Television, which produces A Spy Among Friends. Pope previously bought the show during her time at Charter and now sold it to MGM+ in her new role atop Sony TV. The MGM-controlled Epix will be rebranded as MGM+ starting January 1, 2023.
“I’m very happy to be bringing our Cold War tale of friendship and betrayal to MGM+. They’re the perfect partners for us and I can’t wait for people to see it,” said Damian Lewis.
“Alex Cary has brilliantly adapted Ben Macintyre’s historical novel about friendship, loyalty, and betrayal. He, along with Nick Murphy, Damian Lewis, and the remarkable cast led by Lewis and Guy Pearce, have brought to life this riveting tale of two British spies whose deep personal bond and long friendship is challenged by duplicity and deception,” said Michael Wright, head of MGM+. “This series is emblematic of our new MGM+ brand and the rich, cinematic, and character-driven stories we aim to tell.”
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ITVX’s Adaptation of Ben Macintyre’s Bestseller Invents Female Officer
by Anita Singh | The Telegraph | November 29, 2022
Kim Philby’s career as a double agent was a betrayal not just of his country, but of the old boys’ network at MI6.
A new television drama about his treachery aims to inject some gender balance by inventing a female character who exposes the British intelligence services as a world of entitled, public school “dinosaurs”.
The drama, A Spy Among Friends, is an adaptation of Ben Macintyre’s bestselling book about the friendship between Philby and Nicholas Elliott, a fellow agent.
Damian Lewis plays Elliott, who has been blind to Philby’s betrayal. He gradually learns the truth through his dealing with Lily Taylor (Anna Maxwell Martin), a working class MI5 officer called in to investigate.
The drama, co-starring Guy Pearce as Philby, launches on December 8 on ITVX, the streaming service which is replacing the old ITV Hub.
The creation of Lily Taylor follows a trend for inserting fictional female characters into stories that, in their original form, had no place for women.
“This character enabled us to tell a particular story,” said Lewis. “About a generation of white, upper class dinosaurs, who’d been responsible for two world wars, failed intelligence missions, and had curated and nurtured our most famous double agent. The redemptive thing for Elliott is that he has the foresight and humanity to recognize in this young, female MI5 officer that here might be a way forward. He sees in her something rather brilliant – he sees the future.”
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Episode Titles and Descriptions
by Gingersnap | damian-lewis.com | November 28, 2022
A Spy Among Friends will be available on ITVX on December 8 and BritBox AU on December 9. For those of us across the pond, the US release will be March 12, 2023 on MGM+ (formally Epix). Here are the episode titles and descriptions.
Episode 1: Boom-ooh-yatatatah Description: In the wake of Kim Philby’s escape to Moscow, his closest friend in Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (also known as MI6.), Nicholas Elliott, is under investigation by Mrs. Lily Thomas from the Security Service (MI5): Did he facilitate Philby’s escape because he’s also a traitor working for the Russians, or is it just that his judgement was clouded at a critical moment by their twenty-three year friendship? Or maybe, just maybe, he in fact had the last laugh having manipulated Philby to run to the bosom of the KGB for foreign intelligence purposes.
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A Spy Among Friends
by Hugh Montgomery | BBC Culture | November 28, 2022
Hugh Montgomery picks out the month’s biggest TV offerings – from Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford in Western series 1923 to fantasy prequel The Witcher: Blood Origin with Michelle Yeoh.
#5 A Spy Among Friends
Guy Pearce and Damian Lewis star in this real-life spy drama, based on Ben Macintyre’s book, about the relationship between Nicholas Elliott (Lewis) and Kim Philby (Pearce): two MI6 agents in the post-war period whose friendship was complicated, to say the least, when Elliott discovered that Philby – “the man I trusted most,” as Elliott says in the trailer – was in fact a double agent working for the KGB. What’s more, Elliott was then the man tasked with extracting a taped confession from Philby. One to jangle the nerves.
A Spy Among Friends premieres on 8 December on ITVX in the UK, with a US release date yet to be announced.
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For All To Hear
by BritBox AU | Instagram | November 27, 2022
Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce read a passage from Ben Macintyre’s non-fiction thriller A Spy Among Friends. The new drama mini-series will be available on ITVX on December 8 and BritBox AU on December 9.
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The Cruelest Betrayal
by Vicki Power | Weekend Magazine for Daily Mail | November 25, 2022
With its moles, traitors, double agents and secret dossiers, the scandalous tale of the Cambridge spies is as electrifying as anything John le Carré ever dreamed up. It’s no wonder the story of five Oxbridge graduates secretly spying for the KGB during World War II and the Cold War has been adapted for numerous TV dramas.
But a riveting new six-part TV series takes a fresh approach to this astonishing tale of betrayal by looking at Kim Philby’s outrageous behavior and casting two huge Hollywood stars, Homeland’s Damian Lewis and LA Confidential’s Guy Pearce, in the lead roles.
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by Nick Curtis | Evening Standard | November 25, 2022
Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce do an awful lot of stiff-upper-lip acting in ITV’s new espionage drama A Spy Among Friends, the latest to explore the actions of the Cambridge Five, Soviet spies who were at the heart of the British Establishment from the Second World War onwards. Here the focus is on Kim Philby (Pearce) whose treachery was discovered in 1963.
Philby’s great friend and fellow SIS agent Nicholas Elliott was dispatched to Beirut to confront and possibly to detain or “turn” Philby again. Instead, he extracted a partial confession and let Philby abscond to Russia. On screen this tale has bags of atmosphere, period detail and clipped dialogue.