Have you see? A look back at BBC America's TV mini-series, London Spy

David Ferguson explores the 2015 mini-series, London Spy, but fear not! This review is spoiler-free yet loaded with details.

Still from London Spy
Image: YouTube @BBC

As No Time To Die is still in cinemas, it was kind of a coincidence that I finally went back and watched BBC drama London Spy (2015) recently.

Ben Whishaw, who plays the new Q in the Bond series, stars as the main character, Danny, who ends up involved in the world of spies. This comes through a relationship with Alex (Edward Holcroft).

Whishaw always delivers believability for me and this is probably one of his most intense roles. I think I first saw him in the strange, (kind of) Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There (2007) but it was his performance in Cloud Atlas (2012) that first really caught my attention. In it, he plays a number of parts (as do a lot of the cast) but he has the main role in the 1936 story.

He plays bisexual composer Robert Frobisher who has an intense romance with Rufus Sixsmith (James D’Arcy) and works with ageing composer Vyvyan Ayrs, played by Jim Broadbent (more on him later). It’s a great story that I recommend people watch. Whishaw instantly went on my list as “I’ll watch the movie if he’s in it.”

Back to London Spy where he plays Danny, a gay guy with something of a checkered past.

After another night on the town that has ended the following morning, he meets Alex who is on his morning run. Danny is instantly attracted to him and decides to try and run into him again. He tries the same spot a few times and luckily he sees him again.

Alex is the opposite to Danny. Somewhat emotionless and much less experienced sexually than Danny. However, they embark on an intense romantic relationship. The story takes a turn when Alex goes missing and Danny starts to find out that maybe Alex wasn’t the man he thought he was.

Also in the cast is the aforementioned Jim Broadbent who plays Scottie, an older gay man who is Danny’s friend and somewhat of a father figure. He is kind and very protective of Danny but also has his own checkered past.

I enjoyed the acting in this series a great deal. I loved how writer and creator Tom Rob Smith’s character backgrounds show how varied the experiences gay men have as well as looking at how they have changed. (Tom Rob Smith went on to write and create The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story which I also recommend).

Some of the plot might stretch credulity a bit (the spy stuff) but the performances, particularly Ben Whishaw who is just magical for me, and the romance story are wonderful. So if you want a different British spy story, check this out.

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