In Review

The Ipcress File review: entertaining TV drama with a hard act to follow

For the most part, this six-part ITV series succeeds

The challenge facing any TV version of The Ipcress File was always going to be to nod to the 1965 film, “without becoming so drenched in homage” it reeked of “cheap aftershave”, said Barbara Ellen in The Observer. For the most part, this six-part ITV series succeeds, retaining the film’s basic plot – a nuclear scientist is kidnapped from Cold War Britain – with a few tweaks. Joe Cole stars as Harry Palmer, the working-class, “culinary-minded intelligence agent” memorably played by Michael Caine. Cole has kept Caine’s “nerd-core spectacles and mac”, and while at first he seems “too choirboy-pretty”, he grows into the part.

If this series didn’t have the 1965 film to live up to, “it would be a pretty good drama”, said Anita Singh in The Daily Telegraph. “Gorgeous period stylings, an atmospheric production and assured direction all do justice” to Len Deighton’s spy story, which first came out in 1962. But Cole lacks Caine’s “charisma and 1960s cool”: he plays up the character’s “insolence and aloofness”, but neglects Palmer’s charm. In an attempt to make it more relevant to contemporary audiences, the series gives more room to the female agent Jean Courtney; unfortunately, Lucy Boynton’s performance is a bit “one-note”. Still, the costumes are “fabulous”, and the story motors along “nicely”.

Some will find it “all a bit cartoony and shallow”, said Hugo Rifkind in The Times, but I loved it. “It’s Sunday night, it’s ITV and, while the goodies might be a bit of a mess, at least the baddies are definitely bad. What more could you want?”

Recommended

23 magnificent hotels to discover in 2022
TheHotel Terrestre swimming pool, which is outside in the sun
In Focus

23 magnificent hotels to discover in 2022

Recipe: asparagus, wild garlic and English pecorino salad
Fresh asparagus on a plate
On the menu

Recipe: asparagus, wild garlic and English pecorino salad

Walking into the past on Hadrian’s Wall
Shot of the wall from above
The big trip

Walking into the past on Hadrian’s Wall

Film review: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
In Review

Film review: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Popular articles

Is Vladimir Putin seriously ill?
Vladimir Putin
Why we’re talking about . . .

Is Vladimir Putin seriously ill?

The mysterious Russian oligarch deaths
Vladimir Putin has previously deployed ‘extreme measures’ to crush opposition
Why we’re talking about . . .

The mysterious Russian oligarch deaths

Is the UK heading for a housing crash?
A ‘sold’ sign outside residential property in Brentwood, Essex
Business Briefing

Is the UK heading for a housing crash?

The Week Footer Banner