Yet again, it seems as though the BBC have hit the jackpot with with their new Sunday night drama serial The Night Manager. The 6 episode serial is a star studded thriller adapted from the novel by John Le Carre. The cast consists of fine British acting talent; Tom Hiddleston leading the ensemble and supported by the likes of Hugh Laurie and Olivia Colman. Here, star vehicles pull in an even wider audience.
The first episode follows our protagonist, Iraq War Veteran turned respected Hotelier Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston), as we find him in the centre of political unrest in Cairo, walking through gun fire and explosions unfazed by it all. Immediately we can see he’s not only a brave guy but he really cares about his job, risking himself and heading to the hotel during the day, helping the terrified residents despite his shift not beginning until later that evening. Investment in his job and lust for hotel resident Sophie Alekan (Aure Atika) drags Jonathan head first into the business of Freddie Hamid, the youngest son of the most powerful family in Cairo; someone certainly not to be messed with, and Sophie just happens to be his mistress. With his sense of duty, not only to the hotel and his new found lover but to Queen and Country, Jonathan cannot help but play hero when Sophie slips him the gut-wrenching papers from notorious arms dealer Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie), listing everything up to Napalm to be sold to Freddie Hamid. Jonathan’s well placed efforts to help Sophie and the British government end with devastating effect, however.
We join Jonathan 4 years later, still a hotel night manager but seemingly well away from the troubles he encountered in Cairo, now in the beautifully snow-ridden Zermatt in Switzerland. Trouble once again comes dancing up to his doorstep, however, in the form of Richard Roper; the last person from Jonathan’s past he wanted to come back to haunt him. Once again, Jonathan’s sense of duty does not leave him, acquiring what comes to be some vital evidence as he enquires the help of British intelligence operative, Angela Burr (Olivia Colman). Here, she provides the hook for the next episode and pretty much the enture series: “The question is, what are you prepared to do about it?”
The casting for The Night Manager is beyond exceptional, from Aure Atika’s seductive yet vulnerable Sophia Alekan to Olivia Colman’s patriotic, feisty and determined Angela Burr; a male character in the novel who works just as well, if not better, as a determined woman. The most interesting and risqué choice was Hugh Laurie as the “worst man in the world” Richard Roper, yet despite our prior image of him, Laurie provides a charmingly awful villain who we just know is going to stop at nothing to get what he wants.
Since the episode aired, many have said that the serial is Tom Hiddleston’s audition for James Bond. The espionage and Angela Burr’s phone number — +44700707070 — makes this undeniable. However, the series offers so much more with beautiful imagery, strong characters arcs and brilliant direction from Academy Award winning Susanne Bier.
- by Heather Thornton