Friday 1 January 2021

A new Harry Palmer on the horizon

The new Harry Palmer. What, no glasses?

 Before Christmas, ITV delivered a Christmas present for Deighton fans, of sorts.

A new six-part TV series based on The Ipcress File novel is planned for broadcast this year, with a new younger cast recreating Len Deighton's first novel - reimagining, perhaps, given the fabled original movie starring Michael Caine is so well known.

The part made famous by Michael Caine will be played by young British actor Joe Cole, who's most famous for his role in BBC 1's Peaky Blinders historical drama. He'll be joined by actress Lucy Boynton - who one imagines will play Jean - and also Tom Hollander. Further details are awaited about the series but the signs in the ITV press release are relatively positive.

With six parts, presumably an hour long, the producers should have more time for character development and to visit more parts of the books - including those in the Pacific - which were excised from the original cinema version. 

Potentially, too, they have the option to explore more of Harry Palmer's back story - the producers are sticking with the name created for the film, given the brand value of doing so - particularly his criminal acts within the army in Berlin which originally landed him with Colonel Ross in W.O.O.C.(P).

Of course, any series based on a book from the 'sixties will inevitably be 'updated' and made 'relevant', but as long as it's not egregious or doesn't get in the way of telling the story, such things are forgiveable.

Still, it should be fun, and I wait to see with interest whether it can hold its ground with the original.

Now, some better 2021 New Year news would be to hear that Clerkenwell Films - holders of the TV rights for all nine Bernard Samson books - has, having held the rights for over five years - announced plans to start filming the series.

But, maybe we have to wait for April Fool's Day for that announcement.

What do other readers think - good idea or not, the Ipcress update?


  1. Great idea, but I'd give Harry a pair of glasses. The frames like those worn by Michael Caine - both on and off-screen in the 1960s- are back in vogue.
    Looks like we'll hopefully get a steady trickle of espionage film and tv over the next few years. And yes, I'd love to see a sprawling series based on the Bernie Samson novels.

  2. Are there any plans for Bernard Samson to be serialized, properly this time around!

    1. It is stuck in development hell with Clerkenwell Films of London. They've had the rights for six years now; nothing doing!

  3. The question is who else would be interested to watch other than die-hard Deighton fans, who are not that many. Michael Caine in his role as Harry Palmer is largely forgotten now, and he is known more for his butler role as Alfred (perhaps Michael too would prefer to be remembered in this role) in batman films.

  4. The IMDb entry for this show is confusing. The episode guide lists 2 seasons, with the only episode in season 1 not having an air date, while the only listed episode for season 2 having an air date of 28 May (2 days ago!). A mystery to rival Mr Deighton's works.