The spies are well and truly out in the cold in new BBC2 drama The Game, a thriller where no one is completely sure who is on their side – and who might have turned.
Find out more about the key cast members below, and read what they really think of their duplicitous characters.
Where you’ve seen him before: Cemetery Junction, The Lady Vanishes, Dancing on the Edge
Who he plays in The Game: mysterious British spy Joe Lambe, a ‘honeytrapper’ who sleeps with women for information
Hughes on his character: “He’s the first character that I would happily spend multiple years with, because there is so much behind him and yet he gives it away drip by drip. You hardly know a thing, but hopefully – if I’ve done my job right – you just feel this tension, this desperation behind the mask. Everything’s a contradiction, everything is a lie, even to himself.”
Where you’ve seen him: Braveheart, The Bourne Identity, Bob Servant Independent
Who he plays in The Game: the head of MI5, known only as “Daddy” – he’s the link between the spooks and the politicians
Cox on his character: “He runs things in a very particular way and has a very particular style. He’s very much like his name suggests; he is Daddy. He keeps the group under lock and key, and he knows them well, but there are a few things that have being wrong of late. There’s an element of the maverick about him, but he’s ambitious so tries to play by the rules.”
Where you’ve seen him: Friday Night Dinner, Vera, No Offence
Who he plays: foppish head of counter espionage Bobby Waterhouse
Ritter on his character: “Bobby is something of a lone wolf. He has a competitive edge with some of his colleagues, but that doesn’t mean to say that he doesn’t respect them. He’s surrounded by very intelligent people. He has a slightly edgy relationship with everyone, including himself. Bobby’s not quite sure who he is or quite what he’s doing there and I’m sure there’s a part of him that would love to be doing something completely different with his life; however it was the path that was marked out for him.”
Where you’ve seen her: Lark Rise to Candleford, Pride and Prejudice, What Remains
Who she plays: ambitious intelligence officer Sarah Montag
Hamilton on her character: “Sarah is kind of the exception to every rule. She holds a senior position in MI5, which no other women held at the time, with access to a lot of secret information. This is quite unique for the 1970s as most of the positions women held were as secretaries or assistants to the men. Although we don’t talk about the fact that she’s a woman in a man’s world, she very much is. It’s a great challenge to play as I didn’t want Sarah to lose her femininity to fit in with this masculine world.”
Where you’ve seen him: Sherlock, The Amazing Mrs Pritchard
Who he plays: eccentric technical wizard Alan Montag and wife of Sarah
Aris on his character: “He’s responsible for surveillance, bugging, microphones and listening in. Alan is trusted to be part of Daddy’s top team of agents who are looking in to Operation Glass along with his wife, Sarah Montag who is a brilliant intelligence analyst. It’s quite unusual to have a married couple in that scenario. Alan is a quiet and shy man, who has his own style of courage, but isn’t running around the field with a gun. He’s a bright man who has a lovely relationship with his wife Sarah, they are each other’s rocks.”
Where you’ve seen him: Broadchurch, Ordinary Lies, Misfits
Who he plays: tough police liason officer Jim Fenchurch
What you need to know: Dooley’s character Fenchurch is an anomaly in The Game’s close-knit circle of spies. He’s not from MI5 himself, but joins the team instead from Special Branch, and at first is not impressed with how British ‘Intelligence’ operates. However, he quickly realises that with stakes so high, he too may have to compromise his simple moral outlook in order to uncover the Soviet plot.
Where you’ve seen her: Black Mirror, Shell
Who she plays: mousy MI5 secretary Wendy Straw
Pirrie on her character: “Wendy is essentially a secretary, but has been upgraded from the normal run of the mill secretaries. She doesn’t really know what’s happened, but she finds herself plucked out from her everyday role and suddenly realises that she’s in a room with different people. Her awareness that she is being scouted is quite odd to her.”