Secret State

Series 1 - Episode 1

Secret State
Radio Times
Review by:
Jane Rackham

From the apocalyptic opening scene, this political thriller – very loosely based on Chris Mullin’s novel (and then Bafta-winning drama) A Very British Coup – grabs you by the throat and doesn’t release you from its grip for a second. Think State of Play or Edge of Darkness.

Gabriel Byrne plays Deputy Prime Minister Tom Dawkins, who’s been left with a right mess to clear up after an explosion in an American-owned petrochemical factory in Teesside, which has killed several people and devastated the local community.

Journalist Ellis Kane (Gina McKee) smells a conspiracy, but although Dawkins is prepared to listen to her, his colleagues in the corridors of power are more interested in a looming general election. Adding to his problems, MI5 spooks are listening in to and watching his every move, determined to derail any investigations.

Charles Dance as Chief Whip John Hodder (a Francis Urquhart-style puppet master) is wonderfully reptilian, while Sylvestra le Touzel has hewn her tough and ambitious Foreign Secretary character from granite.

About this programme

1/4. Political drama, starring Gabriel Byrne, based on Chris Mullin's novel A Very British Coup. Deputy Prime Minister Tom Dawkins vows to take on an American petrochemical company after a devastating industrial accident on British soil. Following the suspicious death of the PM in a plane crash, his understated ambitions are tested as two colleagues vie for the top job - but neither appears to have justice for those affected by the disaster at the forefront of their campaign. With Charles Dance, Stephen Dillane, Rupert Graves and Douglas Hodge.

Cast and crew


Tom Dawkins
Gabriel Byrne
John Hodder
Charles Dance
Paul J Clark
Stephen Dillane
Felix Durrell
Rupert Graves
Anthony Fossett
Douglas Hodge
Sgt Wrigglesworth
Ralph Ineson
Ros Yelland
Sylvestra Le Touzel
Gina Hayes
Anna Madeley
Ellis Kane
Gina McKee
Agnes Evans
Ruth Negga
Lee Foulds
Jamie Sives
Joss Leyton
Al Weaver
Laura Duchenne
Lia Williams
Rachel Gough
Susan Cookson
Nills Jacobson
Russell Kilmister
Graham Gough
Tony Pritchard
Charles Flyte
Tobias Menzies
Dr Mark Ashcroft
Jason Done
Rosie Miller
Sophie Ward
Meeting chairperson
Paul Elsam
Meeting protester
Paul Codman
Downing St journalist
Charles De'Ath
Downing St journalist
Becky Hindley
Downing St housekeeper
Eithne Browne
Political correspondent
Andrew Pollard
Chris Mullin


Ed Fraiman
Johann Knobel
Robert Jones