Featuring a tantalising smorgasbord of British acting talent, the Beeb's latest drama series is off to a promising start.
Warning: Spoilers ahead, please read at your own discretion.
Based on the acclaimed novel by John Le Carré, the BBC’s latest drama offering, The Night Manager, offers a tale worthy of your attention. Filled to the brim with dark conspiracies, lustful encounters and dubious agendas, this six-part series already feels as though it has the power to intrigue.
Tom Hiddleston stars as Jonathan Pine, a former British solider turned hotel night manager, who works at a luxury establishment in Cairo, Egypt. The narrative begins in 2011, with Pine running a steadfast operation at the Nefertiti Hotel during the explosive tirades of the Egyptian revolution. During his late night shift, Pine encounters Sophie Alekan (Aure Atika); the mistress of a wealthy arms dealer who seeks to escape her repressive plight by handing over incriminating documents to Pine, in the hopes that he will then distribute them to the Egyptian authorities.
The documents in question detail a long list of dangerous explosives and weaponry, all of which have been provided by an omnipotent dealer by the name of Richard Onslow Roper (Hugh Laurie). As we discover in inter-dispersing London-based sequences, Roper is a slippery character at the head of a highly corrupt network that is seemingly untouchable due to his powerful connections. Invigorated by the dangerous nature of the documents, Pine sends a copy of them to a friend at MI6, who then forwards the details to Angela Burr (Olivia Colman), the head of an undermined unit that is intent on bringing Roper down.
However, Pine’s actions soon suffer harsh consequences, as Sophie is later found murdered for her disobedience. The narrative then accelerates to four years later, where an anguished Pine has found residence at a new luxury hotel in Zurich, Switzerland. Whilst on duty, he finally comes face to face with Roper and his entourage – including his fresh-faced American girlfriend Jed (Elizabeth Debicki) – as they touch down for a one-night stay. Haunted by the memory of Sophie and keen to avenge her, Pine approaches Burr with information and the apparent willingness to act as her undercover agent in the elaborate sting operation to bring Roper down.
In terms of casting, the acting talent within the series is as sumptuous as they come, with Hiddleston proving to be a dazzling lead, capable of evoking charm and empathy in equal measure. Although Hugh Laurie’s character is only briefly alluded to throughout this first episode, his presence lingers with the menacingly precise air that you’d expect of “the worst man in the world.” Meanwhile, Olivia Colman also shines as the amusingly forthright Burr, bringing a welcome female presence to this ultra-masculine world of violent espionage. The supporting cast also features the likes of Tom Hollander and Russell Tovey.
Though quite slow-building in its exposition, The Night Manager proves to be a highly promising and visually spectacular watch, and one that will no doubt become more intriguing as it continues.
The Night Manager airs on Sundays at 9pm on BBC One and BBC One HD.