Ben Whishaw in a gay spy thriller? What’s not to like?

CREDIT: (C) WTTV Limited - Photographer: Joss Barratt

CREDIT: (C) WTTV Limited – Photographer: Joss Barratt

The cute and slightly broody looking Q from the Bond franchise in a new 5 part programme, in part inspired by the Gareth Williams case of the body in the bag, and in part by a 1960’s CIA handbook about covering up a murder by using an accident?

Right up my street and no mistaking! We are less than 1/2 way into this programme, and am firmly gripped. I love programmes that throw up more questions than they initially answer, that keep you guessing, that offer false scents, false trails and you end up with no idea how it will all end – bit like life really. It starts with Danny, played by Whishaw, a 20-something in dead-end jobs who parties, flat shares and doesn’t have a steady boyfriend – a bit of an every-gay, nothing special, just living his life.

A chance meeting early one morning with the enigmatic Joe/Alex/Alistair (Edward Holcroft) and suddenly love creeps into his life. Joe is secretive with no family, a job he doesn’t want to talk about and Danny laps it up – even when Joe fronts up and becomes Alex. Danny has a close friend in Scottie (Jim Broadbent playing an older gay in quite a respectable way) and confides in him about Alex and then after 8 months, the two finally meet. Fast forward to a possible romantic weekend away, and suddenly Alex disappears. Danny and Scottie have a heart to heart and Scottie’s past as a spy comes out, along with his suspicions about Alex and his area of work.

Danny then receives a mysterious package at work, and so begins a game of cat and mouse.

A key to Alex’s exclusive apartment complex leads Danny to discover a decaying body, a sex dungeon (but in the attic) and his boyfriend’s possible secret life. After questioning by the police and the assumption the body is that of his boyfriend, yet another identity comes out and Alex becomes Alistair, together with a whole other life and a family.

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Episode 2 introduces the iconic Charlotte Rampling in a role made for her – queen of her very own castle, a model of decorum and a woman of few words, but all packaged with a tinge of menace.

Enter Alistair’s family. Where is this going? Who was Alex? Is he really dead? Why is Danny being watched, and by whom?

The next 3 episodes promise more unanswered questions before the finale, but I intend to savour the acting skills of Ben, and the flashbacks to his handsome and taciturn boyfriend Joe/Alex/Alistair – along with Jim Broadbent’s superior character, who for me, reminds everyone that gay life doesn’t end at 40.

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If you like your spy thrillers with a realistic edge, watch this!

London Spy is on Monday nights at 9PM on BBC 2

About the author: Chris Jones
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