The first thing you need to know about the new BBC One spy drama The Night Manager is that the crew and cast are incredible. Renowned Danish filmmaker Susannah Bier is the director, and the cast includes Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers, High-Rise), Hugh Laurie (House, Jeeves and Wooster and more), Olivia Colman (Broadchurch), Elizabeth Debecki (The Great Gatsby) and Tom Hollander (Pride and Prejudice).
The Night Manager is an elaborate James Bond movie in six parts. The first episode that aired on BBC One on February 21 is set in the United Kingdom, Egypt, and Switzerland. It’s intense, slick and definitely promising, though not yet legally available in India. An adaptation of the John Le Carré 1993 spy thriller of the same name, The Night Manager transports the page-turner from its post Cold War-era setting to the 2011 Arab Spring in Cairo. Jonathan Pine (Hiddleton) is a night manager at at the swanky Nefertiti Hotel in Cairo who gets entangled in a mysterious arms deal involving unscrupulous philanthropist Richard Onslaw Roper (Laurie). The faultless Olivia Colman plays the Intelligence Officer, Angela Burr, in what is a significant shift from the novel – Burr was a male character, while Angela is both female and pregnant.
It is no surprise that Hiddleston is a contender for the role of the new James Bond. While I’m not too keen on watching Daniel Craig hang up his sharp tuxedo yet, The Night Manager’s first episode makes a very compelling case for Hiddleston. That he wears a suit incredibly well only makes his case stronger. Let’s call the episode the longest audition tape for a role ever. And if Hiddleston continues to be his patient, charming and secretive best while operating in a nerve-wrackingly severe setting, he could just be the worthy successor we’ve been looking for.
Laurie too is spectacularly intimidating as Roper, famous as “The worst man in the world.” Roper makes a short appearance in the first episode, but is conspicuously present as the one orchestrating or at least causing a wave of events and eminent disasters.
The show is high on tension right from the first shot where Pine walks through the revolution-ridden streets of Cairo to his hotel, where he manages his many high-profile guests as tear-gas bombs are being thrown in their direction. All is under control till he meets the enigmatic mistress of Freddie Hamid, a powerful man working in cahoots with Roper.
With a budget of $30 milllion, The Night Manager is the BBC’s most expensive production till date and also the most radical adaptation of Le Carré so far. The series itself up for very high expectations, and it is for us to wait and watch if it delivers.