The Ipcress File: ITV’s new spy thriller promises a “twist-laden” adventure around the world

The Ipcress File: the internet is loving ITV’s exciting new spy thriller, which premiered last night

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The ITV adaptation of Len Deighton’s famed spy novel The Ipcress File finally premiered last night and the internet is loving the stylish, 60s series.

Updated 7 March: Sunday nights are getting a whole lot more exciting as The Ipcress File has finally landed on our screens. The spy thriller – which has been over a year in the making – premiered last night (Sunday 6 March) and it’s safe to say that it’s set to be our weekly TV highlight.

It was always going to be a hard task of adapting the novel and beloved 1965 classic film (which stars Michael Caine) but it seems as though the ITV series has gone down a treat with viewers. Of course, comparisons to the original were made. Generally, though, the series has been praised for its “stylish” filming, stellar acting and superb lead by Peaky BlindersJoe Cole.

The series is giving us all a hit of 60s nostalgia – and we’re so here for it:

Viewers couldn’t get over how aesthetically pleasing everything looked:

Cole did get his fair share of comparisons to Caine but fans loved his modern portrayal: 

And Tom Hollander (Pride & Prejudice) also stole the show with his performance:

We can’t wait to tune in again next week:

And if two words could summarise that first episode, we think “jolly good” is more than apt:

Still yet to tune in to the new series for yourself? Perhaps the trailer will convince you to run over to ITV Hub as soon as possible.

The six-part drama series is set to unfold over the coming weeks but the trailer gives us a hint at what’s to come. Peaky Blinders’ Joe Cole plays Harry Palmer, a British sergeant with a criminal past who is given the chance to become a spy instead of facing prison time.

As the trailer opens, we learn more about the first mission Palmer will undertake – tracking down a missing person in Berlin. But that’s not all of it: in fact, as the trailer progresses, we find out that this missing person happens to be a nuclear scientist responsible for designing atomic bombs. 

We also get a glimpse of Lucy Boynton in her role as Palmer’s assistant Jean Courtney (whom Palmer begins to develop a relationship with), as well as Tom Hollander and Ashley Thomas in action as Major Dalby and Maddox respectively.

ITV has also released a preview clip from the first episode, during which Palmer is interrogated about his upbringing, impressive education and his time spent in Berlin.

There’s a lot to take in – and if the trailer and first look clip are anything to go by, this series will certainly keep you on the edge of your seat. Keep reading to find out more about ITV’s The Ipcress File.

What is the plot of The Ipcress File?

As the official synopsis reads: “It’s 1963. Cold war rages between West and East. Nuclear bombers are permanently airborne. In this highly charged atmosphere, we join Harry Palmer – a British army sergeant on the make in Berlin. In this newly partitioned city, a sharp working-class young man with sophisticated tastes can make a lot of money. Wholesaler, retailer, fixer, smuggler, Harry’s varied interests bring him into contact with everything and everyone – until the law catches up and it all comes crashing to a halt.

“Harry finds himself sentenced to eight years in a grim military jail in England, all his prospects abruptly torn away.

“But his impressive network and efficiency have not gone unnoticed, and a gentleman from British intelligence has a proposal. To avoid prison, Harry Palmer will become a spy. And the case on which he cuts his teeth will be The Ipcress File.

Joe Cole as Harry Palmer in ITV's The Ipcress File
Joe Cole as Harry Palmer in ITV's The Ipcress File

“Harry’s links to the man suspected of kidnapping a missing British nuclear scientist result in him being conscripted for a dangerous undercover mission that takes him from the Beatles’ London to the Berlin Wall, from the back alleys of Beirut to the white-hot sand of a Nuclear Atoll in the Pacific.

“A twist-laden spy thriller with a rich cast of characters, The Ipcress File is a stylish and tense tale of abducted scientists, brainwashing, inter-departmental rivalry, treason, and a possibly unwise romance.”

Who will star in The Ipcress File?

If that plot summary didn’t sound exciting enough to pique your interest, the series has also already accrued a pretty stellar line-up. 

Leading the series will be none other than Peaky Blinders and Gangs of London star Joe Cole, who will take on the role of Palmer alongside fellow cast members Tom Hollander (The Night Manager and Us), Lucy Boynton (Bohemian Rhapsody and The Politician) and Ashley Thomas (Them and Top Boy).

Lucy Boynton in ITV's The Ipcress File
Lucy Boynton in ITV's The Ipcress File

The line-up behind the camera is also seriously exciting. For one, the series is being adapted by BAFTA-winning Trainspotting writer John Hodge.

And that’s not forgetting the fact that The Crown producer Andrew Eaton will be executive producing alongside Black Mirror director James Watkins.

Speaking about the upcoming series, director Watkins commented: “We can’t wait to bring Len Deighton’s intoxicating web of spies – sexier than Smiley’s People, more real than Bond – to a wider television audience. With his sly wit and understated integrity clashing against the establishment, working-class spy Harry Palmer is more relevant than ever.”

Tom Hollander in ITV's The Ipcress File
Tom Hollander in ITV's The Ipcress File

When will The Ipcress File be available to watch?

All six episodes are available to watch now on ITV Hub and BritBox, as well as episodes broadcasting weekly on ITV.

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Trailer: ITV

Images: ITV

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.

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