Sunday, 21 February 2016


Cairo, 2011. At the height of the Egyptian Revolution, Jonathan Pyne is the night manager of a luxury hotel. He receives a plea for help from Sophie Alekan, an elegant and enigmatic guest who's the mistress of playboy Freddie Hamid

Hamid has ties with Richard Onslow Roper, a British arms dealer posing as a businessman and philanthropist. Jonathan helps Sophie but makes a decision which has tragic consequences and marks him for life. Four years later, Pyne works for a prestigious hotel in Switzerland when Richard Roper arrives with his girlfriend and his entourage.

« You don't want to escape? » 

The work of spy novelist John le Carré (the pen name of David Cornwell) returns to television with The Night Manager, 25 years after the Thames Television TV movie based on A Murder of Quality and almost 40 years since the BBC version of Tailor Tinker Sailor Spy starring Alec Guiness. Hollywood tried to make the 500-page book (first published in 1993) into a movie a couple of times. The interest of the film industry for the bestsellers of le Carré goes back to 1965 (with The Spy Who Came in from the Cold) and is very active since 2001.

Stephen Cornwell and his brother Simon, the author's sons, are behind this ambitious adaptation of The Night Manager, under their prodco The Ink Factory (founded in 2010). For the big screen the company produced Our Kind of Traitor (2016) and A Most Wanted Man (2014), both from novels by le Carré. Commissioned by the BBC and American network AMC, the big-budget six-part drama (£3 million per episode) is written by David Farr (Spooks) and helmed by Danish Academy Award-winning director Susanne Bier (Serena).

The Night Manager has a very solid cast. Tom Hiddleston (best known as Loki in the Thor and Avengers movies) plays Jonathan Pyne, a discrete and helpful ex-soldier turned hotelier. His life changes forever because of a rare emotional entanglement which prompts him to enter in a perilous game of espionage. Hiddleston faces off against Hugh Laurie (House) as the wealthy, charming and extremely dangerous Richard Roper ("The worst man in the world"). Laurie, a huge fan of John le Carré, tried unsuccessfully to get the rights of the book when it first came out and wanted to play Jonathan Pyne.

The novel underwent some substantial changes with the blessing of John le Carré himself. The most talked about is the astute gender swap of a key character, spymaster Leonard Burr. Angela Burr, played by Olivia Colman (Broadchurch), runs the obscure International Enforcement Agency from a shabby London office. The Night Manager also stars Tom Hollander as Roper's right-hand man Major Corkoran, Elizabeth Debicki (Jed Marshall), Douglas Hodge, Antonio de la Torre, Russell Tovey, David Harewood, Neil Morrissey, etc.

Sophie Alekan is performed by French actress Aure Atika. Filmed in Switzerland, United Kingdom, Morocco, Spain and Turkey, The Night Manager has definitely a James Bond vibe (the Zermatt location is very On Her Majesty's Secret Service) reinforced by the classy Tom Hiddleston. It's an excellent blockbuster TV update of le Carré's book. Apparently a possible original sequel series is not ruled out, which would be a first for the iconic author. With Jonathan Pyne the BBC certainly holds its Jack Ryan or 007.

The Night Manager is produced by The Ink Factory in association with Demarest Films and Character 7 for the BBC and AMC. Produced by Rob Bullock. Exec produced by Stephen Garrett (former head of Kudos), Simon Cornwell and Stephen Cornwell. Music by Spanish composer Victor Reyes (Los nuestros). Michael Snyman is the cinematographer. Opening titles by Elastic (The Leftovers, True Detective).

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