TV - The Ipcress File

Joe Cole as Harry Palmer in a black turtleneck sweater and black rimmed spectacles

The TV series adaptation of spy thriller The Ipcress File, starring Joe Cole as iconic spy Harry Palmer, has started filming...


Press Release

Globally renowned Len Deighton novel, The Ipcress File, the first in the Harry Palmer series, and now adapted by Oscar nominated and BAFTA award winning writer John Hodge into a six part television series produced by Altitude Television for ITV, has commenced filming in Liverpool and Croatia.

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.

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.


Starring Joe Cole (Gangs of London, Peaky Blinders) in the iconic role of Harry Palmer alongside Lucy Boynton (Bohemian Rhapsody, Murder on the Orient Express) as Jean and BAFTA award winning actor, Tom Hollander (The Night Manager, Birdbox) as Dalby, the drama is directed by Emmy award-winner James Watkins (McMafia, Black Mirror, The Woman In Black).

Joining the cast to play further significant roles are Ashley Thomas (NYPD Blue, Top Boy, Salvation) as Maddox, Joshua James as Chico (Industry, Life, Absentia), David Dencik (McMafia, Face to Face, Chernobyl) as Colonel Stok and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Dublin Murders, Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War) as Cathcart.

Director and Executive Producer James Watkins, who is directing each of the six episodes, said “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.”

Writer and Executive Producer John Hodge, known for his work on Trainspotting, and T2 Trainspotting added “This is a wonderful opportunity to inhabit a time when the post war world was morphing into the way we live now, when social mobility, civil rights, and modern feminism were forcing their way into public consciousness, and all of it happening with the world divided in two and both halves threatening to blow the whole thing sky high.”  

The series marks the first major production for Altitude Television, part of the larger Altitude Film Entertainment, the independent British media group behind notable releases such as Amy, Moonlight, Diego Maradona, Calm With Horses, Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans, and Rocks. The series will be produced in association with ITV Studios.

The Ipcress File will be executive produced by Will Clarke (Filth) and Andy Mayson (Ghost Stories) for Altitude Television, Andrew Eaton (The Crown) for Turbine, Sandy Lieberson (Performance), James Watkins and Hilary and Steven Saltzman. The series will be produced by Paul Ritchie (McMafia, Slumdog Millionaire).

Image & info - ITV