London Spy

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Television series
Original title London Spy
Country of production United Kingdom , United States
original language English
year 2015
Working Title Films ,
BBC America ,
NBCUniversal ,
length 60 minutes
Episodes 5 in 1 season
genre thriller
Director Jakob Verbruggen
script Tom Rob Smith
production Guy Heeley
music David Holmes ,
Keefus Ciancia
camera Laurie Rose
First broadcast November 9 - December 7, 2015 (UK) on BBC Two
first broadcast
May 9, 2016 on Netflix

London Spy is a British - American thriller - miniseries made by Tom Rob Smith has been developed. The plot revolves around a young Briton who investigates the alleged accidental death of his partner and uncovered entanglements in the secret service milieu . The first broadcast was broadcasted by BBC Two in 5 episodes from November 9th to December 12th, 2015. The German-language first broadcast took place on May 9th, 2016 on Netflix .


After a night of partying and still under the influence of drugs, the London warehouse worker Danny meets a morning jogger named Alex. The two men become friends and begin a love affair. For the highly intelligent but lonely Alex, Danny is the first person he really gets close to. Danny, on the other hand, has a wild past with numerous sexual partners, but for that reason is all the more convinced that he has found the right person in Alex. From one day to the next, Alex disappears. Danny finds his dead friend locked in a box in the attic of his apartment, which has been converted into a BDSM torture studio. He calls the police, but withholds a cylinder with a combination lock that he found and swallowed before they arrived.

At the police station, Danny learns that Alex has kept his real name Alistair from him, and that he is not an orphan as claimed, but that his parents are still alive. Alex's death is portrayed as an accident in sado-masochistic sex games with breath control . Danny thinks this version is staged because Alex's sexual inexperience could not have been played. He turns to the press, which does not publish his murder theory, but reports on his drug history, whereupon he loses his job. Only his fatherly friend Scottie helps Danny find the truth about Alex's death. He reveals that Alex worked for MI6 , the UK's foreign intelligence service. Scottie himself was once a secret agent with MI6 before being forced out of service and driven into a suicide attempt because of his homosexuality .

Danny receives an invitation to join a couple who claim to be Alistair's parents. However, he sees through that this encounter is also staged. Frances Turner, wife of Charles Turner, a senior secret service official, invites him to her property and confesses that she is Alistair's real mother. According to her statement, her son was neither gay nor virgin, but could only pretend his wishes to everyone. When Danny doesn't believe her again, she warns him not to cause further trouble. The police now hold Danny responsible for Alex's death. If a blood sample is taken, he is deliberately infected with HIV .

Danny, who is not invited to Alex's official funeral, holds his own farewell ceremony for Alex on the beach. He remembers that they wanted to be "one" for each other. When he then sets the code lock to "0000001", it opens and enables a USB stick. Together with Scottie he studied Alex's professor, who decrypts the contents of the stick: Alex has at one based on human facial expressions lie detector worked. When this became public, he was targeted by various secret services, as all systems of rule are based on the use of lies. Later that day, Danny finds Scottie hanged from a tree in the park. Left to himself, he informs numerous newspapers, but his e-mails and letters are all returned as undeliverable or deleted. Instead, Danny's parents suddenly turn up, from whom he was estranged years ago, and seek reconciliation under the pretext that his father is dying. This encounter also turns out to be a charade. Danny's parents were pressured to destroy the contents of the cylinder lock.

Danny visits Frances Turner one more time, and finally learns the truth from her: Alex was the son of her maid, whom she took into her care when she recognized his intelligence. She promoted the boy she called Alistair and at the same time isolated him. In him she teased that intelligent spy who she would once have wanted to be, but which she was denied as a woman and who her stupid husband never was. The development of the lie detector was a sentimental gimmick by her son that called MI5 , the British domestic secret service, on the scene. Alex was locked in a box and interrogated until Frances made him promise not to continue working on his invention and to break all social contacts in order to start a new existence in the USA. But Alex's own detector exposed his concessions as lies, whereupon MI5 had him suffocated in the box and then staged the circumstances of his death.

Danny asks Frances to go public with this story, where her words as a mother carry a different weight than his. Frances refuses at first, but when her maid, Alex's real mother, sets a sign and burns down the property's maze , she joins Alex. She wants to smoke out those responsible for Alex's death, even if they won't have a chance.


The reviews in the UK press of the first airing on BBC Two were broad. Mark Lawson nominated London Spy in the Guardian as one of the best series of 2015. His colleague Gabriel Tate complained about the implausible ending, but the series offers "a lot that is enjoyable, especially from the brilliant Ben Whishaw". Benji Wilson called the series "equally wonderful and annoying" in the Daily Telegraph and asked if there had ever been a television series that was equally frustrating: London Spy had "dizzying highs" and "grotesque lows" for five weeks achieved, sometimes "completely captivating" with scenes of "astonishing brilliance", then again "hellishly pompous" and "rampant". The potentially great script would have called for a bold overhaul.

AA Gill described an "unusual, inexplicably compelling story" in the Sunday Times . It offers “a character drawing of great depth in a plot that is nothing more than a series of riddles presented in puzzling ways.” For Jack Searle, London Spy lived mainly “in the gap between the plot and its message - between what about it's all about, and what it's really about. It's really about self-awareness and how lovers try to get to know each other while lying about themselves. "

In the Daily Mail , Christopher Stevens complained that there was already enough "gay drama" on the BBC: "It's almost impossible to turn on the television without seeing two men entwined, naked". The Huffington Post then reported critical reader comments who replied to Stevens that it was not "a gay espionage drama" but "an espionage drama in which some of the characters happened to be gay".

For Sabine Horst in epd Film , London Spy is “more modest” than the BBC spy series The Night Manager, which was created at the same time . The staging speaks “from the insistent score to the glowing dark tones of feelings - love, sadness, indignation.” Intuition and his body feeling, shaped by the “memory of many fucks ”, allow “Danny to see through the staging of the murder of his lover and crack the crucial »code«. Horst draws the conclusion: "In this way, the series dissolves a genre that is characterized by the calculation and the calculation of the greater good , in which the individual does not count from the subject."


The synchronization of the series was created by Berliner Synchron . Mario von Jascheroff wrote the dialogue books together with Juana-Maria von Jascheroff and directed the dialogue.

role actor Voice actor
Daniel Edward Holt Ben Whishaw Tobias Nath
Scottie Jim Broadbent Frank-Otto Schenk
Alex / Alistair Turner Edward Holcroft Alexander Doering
Detective Taylor Samantha Spiro Daniela Hoffmann
Mrs. Turner / Nanny Lorraine Ashbourne Isabella Grothe
Mr. Turner / Groundsman David Hayman Friedrich G. Beckhaus
The American Clarke Peters Jürgen Kluckert
Frances Turner Charlotte Rampling Krista Posch
Rich Mark Gatiss Mario von Jascheroff
Claire Harriet Walter Liane Rudolph
James James Fox Lothar Blumhagen
Professor Marcus Shaw Adrian Lester Charles Rettinghaus
doppelganger Riccardo Scamarcio Tom Vogt
Pavel Josef Altin
Sara Zrinka Cvitešić Victoria Storm
Charles Turner Nicolas Chagrin
Danny's lawyer Richard Cunningham

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Mark Lawson: Best TV of 2015: No 5 - London Spy . In: The Guardian of December 13, 2015.
  2. "a somewhat daft and implausible ending, but there was still much to enjoy, mostly from the brilliant Ben Whishaw." Quoted from: Gabriel Tate: London Spy recap: episode five - the end of lying . In: The Guardian, December 7, 2015.
  3. “wonderful and infuriating in equal measure […] Has there ever been a television series that's frustrated as much as London Spy (BBC 2)? Over five weeks this contemporary thriller has scaled giddy heights and then plumbed ludicrous depths, gone from being completely gripping to turgid as hell, thrown up single scenes of startling brilliance then followed them with some preposterous self-indulgence […] London Spy's potentially great script was in desperate need of some doughty editing. ”Quoted from: Benji Wilson: London Spy, episode 5, review: 'frustrating' . In: The Daily Telegraph, December 8, 2015.
  4. ^ "This is a strange, inexplicably compelling story. […] It is a characterization of great depth, in a plot that is nothing more than a series of enigmas, presented enigmatically. ”Quoted from: AA Gill: Frank's patter does little to flatter him . In: The Sunday Times, December 6, 2015.
  5. ^ " London Spy has lived in the gap between plot and subtext - between what it's about, and what it's really about. It's really about self-knowledge, and how lovers try to know each other while lying about themselves. ”Quoted from: Jack Searle: Is the final episode of London Spy doomed to let us down? . In: The Guardian, December 7, 2015.
  6. "Believe it or not, BBC execs reckon there is not enough gay drama on the Beeb [...] You might think that it's become impossible to switch the telly on without seeing two men locked in a naked clinch, or in drag, or snogging. ”Quoted from: Christopher Stevens: No plot but lots of disco dancing! It's the Beeb's new gay spy drama . In: Daily Mail of November 10, 2015.
  7. "It's not a gay spy drama, it's a spy drama and some of the characters happen to be gay." Quoted from: Aubrey Allegretti: Daily Mail TV Review Of 'London Spy' Laments The Number Of BBC 'Gay Dramas', Sparks Reader backlash . In: The Huffington Post November 10, 2015.
  8. Sabine Horst: Series tip: “The Night Manager” and “London Spy” . In: epd film from March 25, 2016.
  9. German synchronous index: German synchronous index | Series | London Spy. Retrieved August 14, 2018 .