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Series Premiere Preview: BBC America’s The Game [VIDEO and PHOTOS] 

Photo Credit: Des Willie/BBC
Photo Credit: Des Willie/BBC

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

You had us at Brian Cox, but after we watched the first episode we realized there was so much more to this intriguing, complex spy drama. As the Cold War rages on in the early 1970s, we see MI5 trying to find out more about what the Soviets are doing, especially since their intelligence tells them something big is about to wreak havoc on London. But the problem with the spy game is that it’s impossible to know who to trust. Everyone has an angle and because of the nature of their trade, everyone always has a reason to doubt everyone else – even the people they work with, even their friends. But with this imminent threat hanging over them, this group of agents must investigate every piece of intel they discover and do whatever they can to put a stop to whatever the Soviets are planning.

Series synopsis, from BBC America:

A complex invisible war is being fought by skilled spies trained in the high stakes world of covert espionage. In 1972 London, tensions are at a terrifying peak as the world’s super powers plot against their enemies. The threat: a dangerous and deadly Soviet plot, designed to bring Britain to its knees, dubbed Operation Glass. This is where The Game begins – a stylish, character-driven spy drama that explores the lives and lies of the invisible soldiers fighting a secret war. When an MI5 agent is contacted by a defecting KGB officer about the plan to destroy the British establishment, MI5 leader, Daddy (Brian Cox) assembles a secret committee to investigate the threat in a frantic race against time. Their mission: stop the plot, save Britain and in turn, the world.

The Characters

The Game

Actor: Brian Cox
Character: Daddy

Powerfully built, both physically and intellectually, Daddy is the mastermind that holds MI5 together. No one knows his real name, only his ironic nickname. A man of immense political power and a Whitehall veteran, Daddy knows the true scale of the threats facing Britain. Bearing the scars of the multiple failures of MI5, Operation Glass is Daddy’s last chance to restore the reputation of the agency. But will his specially selected committee be loyal to him or loyal to themselves? For Daddy has his own secrets that could jeopardize everything he’s worked so hard to achieve. His growing infatuation with an exquisite Chinese dancer, too young and too beautiful for him, is a dangerous game for a powerful married man.

Actor: Tom Hughes
Character: Joe Lambe

Joe is a gifted intelligence officer who is an expert at undercover work. He’ll go to any length to gather the intel he needs, including and often time, flirting with the enemy. MI5 makes good use of his brooding good looks and charm, but bedding forgotten wives isn’t the career Joe was destined for. Everything in his life changed after he met and recruited Yulia, a chef in the Soviet embassy. Though the affair was brief, it was charged with the kind of intensity and desperate immediacy that can only happen in wartime. And after years of service, Joe allowed himself the hope of a new life without secrets or deceit. But when Joe loses his lover in a brutal way, he returns to MI5, bringing the weight of his secrets with him. When Daddy recruits him in the mission to stop the Soviet plot, Joe accepts; hoping to redeem himself and prove his loyalty to his country, but mostly because the mission will lead him to his lover’s killer. Can he start afresh or will he be forever consumed by a quest for revenge?

The Game

Actor: Paul Ritter
Character: Bobby Waterhouse

Bobby Waterhouse is the arrogant, louche and ambitious Head of K Branch (counter-espionage), who will do anything to get ahead. Harrow, Oxford and the Secret Service have given him confidence, wit and an impressive address book that gets him access to every corner of the British Establishment. But at home, he is like someone living in a country under occupation, treading on eggshells for fear of antagonizing his ferocious mother, Hester (Judy Parfitt). While he’s good at his job, Bobby’s successes aren’t quite enough to ensure his place in line for the top job. Lacking respect and having never been married, engaged or even involved with a suitable woman, his domineering mother has noticed. And though homosexuality has recently been legalized, the Hester’s of this world see things differently, as do Bobby’s enemies on both sides of the Iron Curtain. If the world knew his secret, Bobby’s carefully built image and career would crumble around him.


Actor: Victoria Hamilton
Character: Sarah Montag

Wry, sardonic and very bright, the chances are Sarah will be the first female director of MI5. She’s worked hard to progress in the boorish male dominated world of espionage and Daddy has noticed. Though Bobby Waterhouse desperately seeks Daddy’s throne, it is Sarah –‘Daddy’s girl’- who looks set to be his successor. Hers is the opinion everyone seeks and her instincts are invaluable in this shadowy world. Sarah, though universally liked, can be incredibly tough when she needs to be. Married to colleague Alan Montag, she is one of the few senior officers who maintains a happy home life alongside her work. While her timid husband would blink in bewilderment when insulted, Sarah returns the blow with devastating accuracy and protects her husband like a lioness. But will her ascendance up the ladder tamper with the delicate balance she’s managed to maintain at home?

theg6Actor: Jonathan Aris
Character: Alan Montag

In the 21st Century, Alan Montag would most likely be a multi-millionaire software maker. But this is the ‘70s and his wizardry is most useful for MI5. A part of the assembled team, the eccentric, disheveled and enthusiastic Alan has a phone number length IQ, egg stains on his tie and is utterly immune to the wearying politics and power plays of MI5. Thankfully he has the small but fearsome Sarah Montag, his wife, to watch out for him. His devotion to her is almost tangible and Alan is never happier than when working at her side. Although he is talented, it’s Sarah whose career is beginning to glitter and her marriage to this loveable oddball has raised many an eyebrow. But their affection is genuine, their relationship strong and loving and Alan would do absolutely anything to protect her.

Actor: Shaun Dooley
Character: Jim Fenchurch

Jim Fenchurch is the Special Branch police liaison assisting the MI5 team with their new investigation. Jim has a simplistic, perhaps idealistic, view of the world and is almost aggressively plain speaking. The notion of treachery almost bewilders him. A volatile and punchy outsider, he’s not constrained by the MI5 hierarchy and free to comment on methods and modes of conduct he finds baffling. Jim sees things in black and white, but will soon come to realize that in the world of espionage, life is lived in a shadowy gray. MI5 must break rules to keep the Soviets at bay, making Jim uneasy. But being thrown into partnering with Joe Lambe, he’ll learn first-hand about the dangerous work that goes on to keep the world safe from nuclear war and may come to understand the complexities of espionage.

thegActor: Chloe Pirrie
Character: Wendy Straw

Wendy has been a secretary at MI5 for a few years. While Sarah Montag climbed to a power position, progression for women is still a battle. So when Wendy is loaned to the team from the ‘Nannies,’ Wendy sees it as a chance to prove herself and get one step closer to a crucial promotion to Junior Desk Officer, following in the footsteps of the revered Sarah. The youngest member of the team, Wendy is there to take notes and assist them all, but in doing so, she sees deeper than anyone else. And in the politically treacherous world of MI5, she must be careful about the alliances she makes. When unexpected support comes from the conniving Bobby Waterhouse, Wendy may get a lot more than she bargained for.

Actor: Marcel Iures
Character: Arkady Malinov

A defecting KGB officer seeking solace in the arms of the British intelligence agency, Arkady Malinov is risking everything to help MI5 solve the Soviet plot that even he is unsure about. But why? Is it dissatisfaction with his government position or something more? Where his loyalties lie no one knows, but he’s all MI5 has and he’ll use that to his advantage. When a sleeper agent’s name is revealed, he’ll make contact and dispatch a message, most of which is given in puzzle form. And as he works with Agent Joe Lambe, a trail of bodies are left in their quest to solve the mystery.

All character images courtesy of Des Willie/BBC.

The Game premieres Wednesday, November 5th at 10/9c on BBC America.



All images courtesy of Des Willie/BBC.

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