In Review

Tom Hiddleston rules out second series of The Night Manager

Actor says BBC adaptation 'feels complete', countering reports he will return to play Jonathan Pine

Night Manager

Tom Hiddleston has quashed rumours of a second series of The Night Manager, leaving fans disappointed.

It had been reported that the BBC was preparing the ground for new material based on the same characters as the first series. The Radio Times quoted a corporation source as saying it was "hopeful" about bringing the show back.

However, the show's stars have now significantly dampened expectations.

According to the Sunday Mirror, Hiddleston, who played central character Jonathan Pine, has said: "As it stands, Pine exists for six hours in a mini-series. The story feels complete. I know the rumours about it extending, but none of that is real."

Talking in the US, co-star Hugh Laurie, who played Richard Roper, the "worst man in the world" backed up this view. "It's based on a novel, we've got to the end of the novel… We are done," he said.

The BBC's £20m adaptation of the 1993 John Le Carre novel was updated for a modern audience, with changes made to the setting, ending and to Olivia Colman's character of Angela Burr, whose literary counterpart was a man called Leonard.

The investment paid off, as the show has been a critical and ratings success. The Sun called it "one of the greatest series of all time", while The Guardian said it was the "BBC's glossiest, smartest, most indecently entertaining Sunday night drama in ages".

The series finale left the fate of Pine and Roper open, giving fans hope of a return. While the latest news makes that look unlikely, there'll be plenty of The Night Manager fans hoping the denials are subterfuge before a dramatic comeback.

The Night Manager: Will the hit show get a second series?

29 March

Lavish spy thriller The Night Manager ended on a critical and ratings high on Sunday night but while fans are thrilled by rumours of a second series, not everyone is convinced.

The BBC's lush £20m production of John Le Carre's novel has attracted an average of more than six million viewers per episode and drawn comparisons to James Bond, with lead man Tom Hiddleston's performance putting him in contention to be the next super spy.

Some have even tipped co-star Olivia Colman, who played plucky heavily pregnant intelligence officer Angela Burr, as the first female 007.

But just about all reviewers agree the show was "thrilling" and "satisfying".

The Night Manager was "scintillatingly good", says Jasper Rees in the Daily Telegraph. While it needed to be at £3m an episode, it put "everything in the service of good storytelling".

There was "a superb climax" with a very "satisfying comeuppance" for arms dealer Richard Onslow Roper (Hugh Laurie), even though, as Rees points out, the TV adaptation took Le Carre's more cynical novel and fashioned "an entirely fresh redemption in which the good ended happily, the bad unhappily".

Andrew Billen in The Times says he began by being critical of The Night Manager's "inappropriately comic tone" but ended up a fan. The finale was "thrillingly tense", he adds, and it was "fun seeing the criminal mastermind with all the right connections being brought down by the dowdy, honourable, pregnant Brit".

While thrilled by the show's conclusion, some fans pointed out a glaring continuity error in the episode, reports the Huffington Post. The key scenes involve Hiddleston's character, Jonathan Pine, taking revenge on the Egyptian arms dealer responsible for the death of his girlfriend by dispatching him in a swimming pool.

Moments after standing in the pool, Pine arrives back at his hotel in a bone-dry suit and shirt, leading one viewer to say Hiddleston was "so hot his trousers dry in seconds".

Continuity issues aside, fans were more excited by rumours that The Night Manager will be back.

Charlotte Moore, the controller of BBC television, has hinted that she is in discussions with Le Carre's sons' production company, The Ink Factory, about a second series, reports The Independent. While he wrote The Night Manager as a stand-alone book, the 84-year-old author is apparently "very involved" with plans for series two and Moore says he "wouldn't be talking with them if he didn't think it was a good idea".

If a second series goes ahead with new material, the newspaper points out it will be the first time Le Carre has given the go-ahead for producers to move beyond his original work.

The idea, however, has made some critics nervous. "Let's hope we're not in for Night Manager 2: The Krakow Protocol," says Adam Sweeting at Arts Desk. "Or maybe it's Hiddles for James Bond, with Hugh Laurie as Goldfinger."

The Night Manager fans in quandary over leaked finale

21 March

As the BBC's John le Carre adaptation The Night Manager drew to a climax with an "explosive" penultimate episode last night, news emerged that the final episode has been leaked online. Will fans be able to resist watching it?

The fifth episode of the series, which stars Tom Hiddleston as an ex-army hotel manager turned spy trying to infiltrate and destroy the operations of a shady arms dealer (Hugh Laurie), won over even the most sceptical of critics.

It was "easily the best episode yet", says Andrew Billen in The Times, who admits he has been wary of "surrendering" to the "pleasures of the Night Manager". But last night saw "everything come together" as arms dealer Richard Roper put on a "magnificent fireworks display" of killing machines for a sleazy Syrian buyer.

The new twists on Le Carre's story are all improvements, adds the critic, saying that the series is "finally suppressing the comedy that threatened its credibility" in the earlier episodes.

Indeed, "the gradual darkening of tone over the course of this series has been masterful", says Gabriel Tate in the Daily Telegraph. "What began as a Bond-like romp has curdled into a ferocious indictment of an entire global system."

The weapons display scene was "four of the more startling minutes of the television year", he adds. The "astounding" set piece was brilliantly staged by director Susanne Bier to reflect the waging of war in the 20th century: both visceral and distanced, intimate and remote, terrifying and awesome.

This week's penultimate episode "had it all", says Archie Bland in The Guardian, "murder, a napalm fireworks show and a surprise weaponry switcheroo". Until now, the balmy climate and glamour has masked the evil of what Roper is doing, but finally he is "showing his teeth".

The questions that the Night Manager has been painstakingly teeing up for weeks are finally on the verge of being answered, continues Bland, who has faith the conclusion will be "as explosive as this unsettling, unlikely, sexy and endlessly riveting story deserves".

But will the ending be ruined by an online leak?

The Daily Mirror, which reported the leak of the last two episodes over the weekend, speculated on whether it would lead to "disaster for the BBC". It seems the blu-ray edition of the series was uploaded after pre-ordered copies were released too early.

Olivia Waring in Metro says that also presented the audience with a "real quandary". Now fans "who can't get enough of the show" don't know whether to "hit up the online rip-off or not".

Some Tweeters said they were "absolutely gripped by The Night Manager" and not sure whether they will be able to wait for the finale. Others commented on the Shakespearean nature of their dilemma, writing: "To watch or not to watch."

Depending on what fans decide, notes Waring, the leak could have an impact on the show's ratings, which have exceeded eight million viewers for each episode throughout its run.

The Night Manager: is Le Carre thriller 'too much fun'?

22 February

John le Carre's spy thriller The Night Manager has been given a slick television make-over in a new multi-million dollar adaptation, which aired last night on BBC One. But while the author approved, some critics thought it was too much fun to be taken seriously.

The six-part BBC-AMC co-production stars Thor's Tom Hiddleston as hotel night manager Jonathan Pine, a former British soldier recruited by intelligence agent Angela Burr (Olivia Colman) to infiltrate the inner circle of sinister arms dealer Richard Onslow Roper (Hugh Laurie).

Producers have altered some parts of Le Carre's original novel, including making Burr a woman, moving the plot from South America to the Middle East and changing the ending.

The author told The Guardian he initially had misgivings about the idea of the television version "updated for our times", but concluded that "it works", adding that the series was "opening up my novel in ways I didn't think anyone had noticed".

But what did the critics think?

Gabriel Tate in the Daily Telegraph says this "good, old-fashioned contemporary thriller" has been "wisely updated" to the Arab Spring in 2011. He also praises the decision to cast Colman as Burr, "otherwise, women thus far resemble plot devices with whom he can knock boots".

But Amy Burns in The Independent thinks it was all a bit clichéd. In case you were in any doubt this was a spy drama, she writes, "the opening credits helpfully confirmed it in four seconds flat" with "martini glasses, speedboats, diamonds" and a Bond-esque theme tune hammered over the top. As for Hiddleston, he was practically current 007 star Daniel Craig – "blond, smooth, toned and handsome".

Still, Burns adds, when the story fast-forwarded four years to Switzerland, "the plot started to pick up" and "Colman was excellent as the doggedly determined Burr".

It doesn't quite work, however, says Andrew Billen in The Times, "at least not in the way they must have intended". While BBC's 1979 and 1982 Le Carre adaptations were solemn but brilliantly watchable, this one teeters on comedy, he says.

The critic goes on to say that Laurie's Roper is a wonderful comic creation and Pine's women are "incredible. This is not Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, he adds, "it's The Man from U.N.C.L.E. relocated to Hotel Babylon – and far too much fun to be taken seriously".

OK, it is a bit Bond, says Sam Wollaston in The Guardian. It's been "nudged about ten per cent – 007 per cent perhaps – in that direction". But as Le Carre's plots can get knotted en route from page to screen, "I'm not complaining about any loosening going on, sexing-up of documents or anything else".

And things really get fun when we move to the Alps, adds the critic. Laurie makes a "splendid villain" and Rev star Tom Hollander is "on fabulousness" as Roper's camp fixer.

No need to recruit me, Wollaston concludes. "I'm already thoroughly signed up for the duration."

The Night Manager: 'audition tape for Hiddleston to play Bond'

19 February

After much anticipation, the new multi-million dollar television spy drama The Night Manager airs in the UK this weekend, but is the John Le Carre tale a little bit too Bond?

The six-part series, based on the novel of the name, is directed by Danish filmmaker Susan Bier, whose In a Better World won the 2011 Oscar for best foreign language film. The BBC-AMC co-production has an estimated budget of £21m and stars Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander, and Elizabeth Debicki.

Thor star Hiddleston plays hotel night manager Jonathan Pine, a former British soldier recruited to infiltrate the inner circle of sinister arms dealer Richard Onslow Roper (Laurie).

The first two episodes previewed in Berlin this week and early reviews seem positive.

It's sleek and sexy and "the air is full of suspense and intrigue from frame one", says Nik Grozdanovic at Way Too Indie.

The actors fire on all cylinders, he continues. Colman "steals every scene she's in", Laurie is "absolutely scrumptious as the sleazy, serpentine Roper" and "Hiddleston gets to show why he'd make a perfectly cool (if perhaps still a little too dainty) James Bond".

"The cliffhanger that ends the second episode had me digging my nails into the seat," adds Grozdanovic, concluding that the full series run "can't come soon enough".

If Hiddleston wanted to audition as "a more sensitive, 21st-century incarnation of James Bond", he couldn't do much better than this, says Gerard Gilbert in The Independent. But the charming and debonair actor would perhaps slip rather too neatly into the role, notes the critic, who says what is far more surprising is Hugh Laurie's chilling turn as "the worst man in the world".

While "we knew Laurie could do grumpy", this menacing turn is "a revelation" for an actor who once played Bertie Wooster to a tee.

Hiddleston gives a "captivating performance" but "the rest of the cast is similarly exceptional", says Henry Northmore on The List. He also praises the series for never treating the viewer like an idiot as it takes its time to unfold.

The Night Manager, he concludes, "matches its luxurious setting for a sumptuous, perfectly paced, thriller packed with outstanding performances".

Nevertheless, Hiddleston's glossy mini-series "plays like a six-hour audition tape for the globe-trotting spy franchise", says Stephen Dalton in the Hollywood Reporter. Looking "lean and buff" the actor is in "maximum eye-candy mode" and his steamy sex scenes in the first two episodes seem to owe more to Bond's "tumescent triumphalism than to le Carre's astringent depictions of Britain as a morally degraded post-imperial power".

Likewise, the background chorus of stereotypes – "sultry femme fatales, glacially arrogant old Etonians, and mincing homosexuals" – are disappointing, argues Dalton. But if nothing else, it will be a profile-boosting star vehicle for Hiddleston, who looks likely to emerge from the experience "shaken not stirred".

The Night Manager begins on Sunday on BBC One at 9pm and on 19 April on AMC.


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