Victoria Hamilton in The Trick

The Trick: the BBC’s new “conspiracy thriller” hits screens tonight (and it’s based on a wild true story)

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BBC One’s The Trick will follow the true story of Professor Phillip Jones, one of the main targets of the 2009 ‘Climategate’ affair. Here’s everything you need to know about the new film.

As fun as it can be to dive into the world of a good fantasy series, sometimes, the best TV shows are those inspired by real-life events. From Channel 4’s Deceit to ITV’s Quiz, there’s something particularly engaging about seeing true stories play out on screen. 

So, when we heard the BBC’s new ‘conspiracy thriller’ The Trick would be based on a true story, we were intrigued to learn more. 

The film, which airs tonight on BBC One at 8:30pm, is based on the story of Professor Philip Jones, one of the scientists at the heart of the 2009 ‘Climategate’ affair.

With the need to take action in the face of climate change becoming increasingly obvious, the film’s central focus feels incredibly timely. And if the film’s trailer is anything to go by, The Trick is going to be a dramatic and gripping watch.  

Keep reading to check out everything we know about BBC One’s The Trick so far. 

What is The Trick about?

Jason Watkins as Professor Phillip Jones in The Trick.
Jason Watkins as Professor Phillip Jones in The Trick.

The Trick will tell the story of Professor Philip Jones, the Director of Climate Research at the University of East Anglia, one of the prime targets at the heart of the 2009 ‘Climategate’ affair, which saw more than a thousand emails and computer files hacked, stolen and used by climate change deniers to argue that global warming was a scientific conspiracy and that scientists had been manipulating or hiding data.

As one of the principal targets of the hack, Jones found himself at the eye of an “international media storm” that led to an influx of online hate and threats. And it’s this experience which forms one of the central focuses of The Trick

“With time running out against an unseen enemy, The Trick looks at the potentially devastating consequences to humanity from climate change denial; how a media storm undermined public confidence in the science and how the concept of ‘truth’ took a back seat causing us to lose a decade of action,” the show’s official description reads.

“The film also charts the unjustified persecution of Phil Jones, his wife Ruth’s support of her husband and the fight for the ultimate exoneration of himself and the science.” 

Who is starring in The Trick

George Mackay and Jerome Flynn
Jerome Flynn as Neil Wallis, a former News of the World executive editor and managing director of Outside Organisation – the PR company who led UEA’s reputation management – and George MacKay as Sam Bowen, Outside Organisation’s Director of Corporate.

Jason Watkins, who is known for his roles in The Crown, Line Of Duty and McDonald & Dodds, will star as Professor Phil Jones.

Victoria Hamilton (pictured in the header image), who has also appeared in The Crown as well as in recent series such as Life and Cobra, will also star as Phil’s wife, Ruth.

Other members of the cast include George MacKay (1917), Rhashan Stone (Keeping Faith), Tara Divina (Line Of Duty), Jerome Flynn (Game Of Thrones), Adrian Edmondson (The Pact), Aneirin Hughes (Keeping Faith), Pooky Quesnel (The A Word), Richard Elfyn (The Pact), Justin Salinger (Hanna) and David Calder (Time). 

Is there a trailer for The Trick?

The BBC dropped a short trailer for the series on 7 October – and it gives viewers a taste of the drama and emotion they can expect to see unfold on screen.

You can watch the full clip above.

What has been said about The Trick?

Jason Watkins and Victoria Hamilton and Phil and Ruth Jones.
Jason Watkins and Victoria Hamilton and Phil and Ruth Jones.

Speaking in a press release when the film was first announced, Watkins said it was a “privilege” to play Phil Jones.

“It is rare that a drama marries the personal and the public in such a compelling way – the urgent need to tackle the effects of the earth’s warming is not going away and the research into this project has been sobering,” he explained.  

“It is a privilege to play the brilliant scientist, Phil Jones, whose own private world was so threatened from outside and whose research and efforts have been so vital globally in combatting the effects of climate change.

“I’m delighted to be performing alongside Victoria, the whole exceptional cast and with Pip Broughton, whose singular and beautiful work I admire.”

And in an interview ahead of the film’s release, Victoria Hamilton spoke about the process of preparing for her role – and said the thriller should act as a “warning” to those who doubt climate scientists.

“I was lucky enough to have several long Zoom calls with Ruth herself during preparations for the role where she was incredibly generous with her time and her explanations of what she and Philip endured were invaluable,” Hamilton said.

“I genuinely hope people are shocked by this story – that it is a lesson in how far certain powers will go to blind us to the truth, and how rumour and conjecture online can so easily become ‘fact’. It has been written as a ‘call to arms’ in the fight to save the planet. I hope it contributes to that argument and I’m very proud to have been a part of it for exactly that reason.” 

When and where will The Trick be released?

The Trick will land on BBC One at 8:30pm on 18 October, and will be available to stream on BBC iPlayer after it has aired.

Will you be watching? 

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Images: BBC

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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.