A tribute to Corky, Tom Hollander’s colourful henchman in The Night Manager

Farewell Corky…it was nice knowing the unscrupulous army Major in the Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie thriller

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*Spoiler alert: do not read if you have not seen episode 5 of The Night Manager *

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Goodbye Corky, it was, er, ‘nice’ knowing you.

In tonight’s penultimate episode of The Night Manager, Tom Hollander’s deliciously villainous, scabrously funny and louche factotum Lance Corcoran was despatched, in rather humiliating style.

Just when the pint-sized little so-and-so thought he had rumbled Tom Hiddleston’s Jonathan Pine, he was rumbled himself, beaten to death by the British operative in a stunning volte-face.

It was a tragic, if fitting, end for one of the drama’s most deliciously hateful characters. What was it about Corky that was so compelling?

He didn’t get too much screen time, but when he did, he set the drama alight.

Lecherous, scheming and an inveterate boozer, there was something oddly human about Corky, especially as it was his personal shortcomings that eventually sealed his fate. A little too indiscreet, a little bit too much of a drunk, he was an easy target for Pine who edged him out in style. But still, a night in a wine bar with Corky would probably be a laugh, whatever you say about his ethical shortcomings as the right hand man of unscrupulous arms dealer Richard Roper.

Corky was, in the end, helpless, but at least he was smart, spotting Pine as a wrong’un from the off and toying with Hiddleston’s character as much as he could.

Only someone who was in love with Roper as Corky clearly was could have sensed the danger.

“To the victor… and to the blind man who can’t see the human bloody hand grenade in front of his bloody eyes,” he toasted in that awful restaurant scene, before heading off in disgrace like a bad dog who’d done a wee-wee on the carpet.

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He had a way with words did Corky, always ready with the quip, whether it was remarking on Pine’s injuries or his sneaky little asides to Pine and Jed about their midnight meetings in Majorca.

It was tempting to like him. Tempting. But not really possible, when you think about the man he worked for and the things Corky said. He was the man after all who, following the suicide of Apostol’s daughter at her own birthday party, saw fit to remark: “Still, the canapés were good”.

Then there was the restaurant cameo, where Corky sunk lower still, hurling racist insults at the waiter and causing what the polite among us would call a “scene” (if a lunch where you end up punching the serving staff and then simulating fellatio with one of the guests is still considered a scene these days).

Even when he was killed, his gravediggers quipped: “That’s the smallest grave I ever dug.” The final insult.

But there is little doubt that this was a little role that Hollander relished, and he was dazzling at it. He will be missed for the final episode.

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The final episode of The Night Manager airs next Sunday at 9pm