The Night Manager is the first John Le Carré novel to become a TV series in more than 20 years, following 1991’s TV movie, A Murder of Quality, starring Denholm Elliott, Joss Ackland and Glenda Jackson and, in similar style, has attracted some top-rated talent in the form of Hugh Laurie (House) and Tom Hiddleston, the latter popping up from time to time in the Marvel universe as the evil Loki.
Philanthropist Richard Roper (Laurie) is making himself out to be the most wonderful man in the world by bankrolling a ‘Safe Haven’ project for refugees in the wake of the Arab spring uprising of 2011. Despot Hosni Mubarak has just resigned as President of Egypt and the locals are celebriting wildly. Jonathan Pine (Hiddleston) is former-soldier-turned-manager of the Nefertiti hotel by night, and also, in part, by day as we first saw him helping out the day shift while riots are going off outside… And I loved the way he communicates over the phone that grenades are going off 50 yards West of the hotel. I wouldn’t know which way is North, South, West or East!
Anyhoo, some of the guests are seemingly more needy than others, and Sophie Alekan (Aure Atika), mistress of local hot-head and bad guy Freddie Hamid (David Avery), asked Pine early on to photocopy some bills of sale showing lots of guns, bullets, chlorine gas, nerve agent, naplam and more dodgy items being bought. This isn’t exactly her Tesco shopping list, and it’s also got the sticky paw prints of Iron Last – Roper’s company – all over it.
As the first episode progressed, despite his seemingly innocuous regular job, Pine gets drawn deeper and deeper into the situation, even more so when Angela Burr (The Lobster‘s Olivia Colman) and Rob Singhal (Utopia, Capital and River‘s Adeel Akhtar), working in the London Intelligence office, get wind of all of this. Note that Colman’s character was originally a man, but has been changed for this adaptation, including writing her as pregnant, since the actress was expecting her third child at the time.
By the end of the episode, we’d moved on four years later, with Pine again as a night manager, but at a hotel in Zermatt, Switzerland, where Roper was about to pay a visit with his entourage in tow, including hot young girlfriend Jed (Everest‘s Elizabeth Debicki) and his snooty/rude right-hand man Lance Corcoran (Tom Hollander – Rev, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation).
However, despite the sumptuous and exotic locations and an engaging score from Víctor Reyes, the first episode did get a bit predictable a times, such as with the handsome hero sleeping with the damsel in distress, while every time you saw Laurie appear onscreen, you expected captions to appear, telling you to ‘boo’ and ‘hiss’ at the screen.
That said, I’ve also seen the second episode and, after the first’s introduction to the world of Jonathan Pane, next week’s nicely ramps up the tension and intrigue and I am very much looking forward to the rest of the series. Additions to the cast include Neil Morrissey, The Game‘s Jonathan Aris, plus Homeland‘s David Harewood, again sporting a dodgy American accent.
About the programme’s lead, and I could see Tom Hiddleston being the next James Bond, since it seems Daniel Craig has had enough of the role, and Spectre was like a ‘Best of Craig’s Bond films’.
The Night Manager is available to pre-order on Blu-ray and DVD, ahead of its released on March 28th, and the drama continues next Sunday on BBC1 at 9pm. If you missed it, you can watch the episode on BBC iPlayer, up until March 22nd. Also, click on the packshot for the full-size version.
Episode 1 Score: 7/10
Director: Susanne Bier
Producer: Rob Bullock
Screenplay: David Farr (based on the novel by John Le Carré)
Music: Víctor Reyes
Jonathan Pine: Tom Hiddleston
Richard Onslow Roper: Hugh Laurie
Jed Marshall: Elizabeth Debicki
Angela Burr: Olivia Colman
Sophie Alekan: Aure Atika
Lance Corcoran: Tom Hollander
Rob Singhal: Adeel Akhtar
Simon Ogilvey: Russell Tovey
Permanent Secretary: Katherine Kelly
Rex Mayhew: Douglas Hodge
Mercedes: Marta Torné
Sandy Langbourne: Alistair Petrie
Caroline Langbourne: Natasha Little
Juan Apostol: Antonio de la Torre
Marilyn: Hannah Steele
Frisky: Michael Nardone
Freddie Hamid: David Avery
Herr Strippli: Erich Redman
Youssef: Amir El-Masry
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.