Tom Hiddleston gave his best audition for the hotly contested Bond role in 2016's hit BBC drama The Night Manager, based on the famous spy novel by John le Carré.
The six-part drama received universal critical acclaim and a slew of nominations and awards – including three Golden Globes – and stars Hiddleston as luxury hotel manager and former British soldier Jonathan Pine, who is recruited by Angela Burr (Olivia Colman) to infiltrate a secret arms trade between the UK and the States, spearheaded by Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie).
A sequel looked likely. But three years later, we’re still waiting for a much-anticipated second series. So is The Night Manager coming back to our screens anytime soon? Here’s everything you need to know…
Will there be a second series of The Night Manager?
Possibly! But after a flurry of initial reports about the show's future, things seems to have gone worryingly quiet.
Back in 2017, Susanne Bier told Broadcast that a follow-up to the John Le Carré TV series is “slowly being developed” with the BBC and US co-producers AMC, and that the script was currently being written by a “team of writers” – but that the creators were hoping to take their time to make sure series two ‘lives up’ to the first series.
“We all want very much to do a season two but the thing we absolutely do not want is to do something that does not live up to the level of season one,” she said. “That would be a really bad idea.”
However, in the days after that article was published, there was an attempt to calm things down and quell the media excitement. A statement was released saying: “The Ink Factory, BBC and AMC are in the early stages of developing a potential second series of The Night Manager, but nothing is definite yet and we have nothing to announce.”
Executive producer Stephen Garrett told Deadline: “There’s not even a script. There’s just conversations and thoughts… It’s not ruled out and it’s not ruled in. It’s entirely possible and we’d love to do it.”
He added, “The official position, which is also the truth — I know that’s unusual but there you go — is that we’re thinking about it; we’re doing a kind of feasibility study.”
Producer Simon Cornwall has also expressed a desire to do a second series, explaining at a Royal Television Society event, "I think in a lot of ways we would love to do another series, it would be very exciting.
He insisted: "We wouldn't do something that we didn't feel had a fighting chance of being even better than the first one. We might not succeed, but I think if you don't go in with ambition, there's actually no point in doing it."
The cast did also seem keen to return and move the storyline on from the original novel.
Hiddleston told RadioTimes.com that he was “very proud” of the show, while Elizabeth Debicki, who played Jemima in the series, has also stoked the fire, teasing, “I’m sworn to secrecy, but I think a sequel might be in the works, yeah.”
And spy novelist Charles Cumming all but confirmed he was working on new scripts, telling Event magazine, “All I am permitted to say is that le Carré has given his blessing to the project. The four of us in the writers' room are sworn to silence.
"Some characters that the audience know and love will be returning, others will not. The locations will be sumptuous, the plot as thrilling and as thematically complex as a le Carré story should be."
But production company The Night Manager has since moved onto other projects, including 2018's John le Carré adaptation The Little Drummer Girl, and as of June 2019 the show is listed as "completed" on their website.
Who would be in the cast of The Night Manager series two?
Hiddleston seemed to confirm he was returning, telling Zoe Ball on the Radio 2 Breakfast Show, “At the moment [the show] is in the lap of John le Carré and his sons who run The Ink Factory, the production company which produces it.
"They are potentially conceiving how these characters might live on: what they’re doing now given the state of the world. Which is curious given that the world is in an ‘interesting’ place, shall we say.
“What’s Jonathan Pine doing? Where is he? He’s probably in a dark corner somewhere spying on someone. What shape or form might that take? I’m very curious to see what materialises, and that’s about as much as I can say.”
Not everyone made it out of the first series alive (Tom Hollander’s fan favourite Corky is unlikely to return). But there are plenty of characters who could make a comeback...
Is director Susanne Bier returning The Night Manager series two?
Bier confirmed she has since pulled out of directing the new series, over fears she may not be able to give her “very best work” with it.
Speaking in an interview with RadioTimes.com about her Netflix film Bird Box, she explained, “I'm not doing Night Manager 2. I wasn't sure that I would do my very best work the second time round – so I decided that I should probably not do it and have somebody [else direct it].
"I just got worried that I would repeat myself or do something which wasn't as great, but I think somebody else is going to do an amazing job out of it."
Did John le Carré write a sequel to The Night Manager?
The issue of a second series becomes all the more thorny when you consider the author, John le Carré, never wrote a sequel, preferring to pen standalone novels.
It’s something the cast have also acknowledged, with Laurie mentioning that following le Carré’s work would be “an immense challenge.”
“In the 20 or so novels that le Carré's written, I don't think there's ever been anything that's continued beyond a novel that he's written," Laurie said. "So this would be new territory for him – and obviously he was immensely involved in [the first series] and gave it his blessing."
But he also added that it was le Carré’s idea for the show to have a follow up – after “a bit of time”.
"I think it's actually really healthy if it happens and there is a bit of time," he continued. "Because you have to overcome the fear of, 'How does it ever get as good again?' - you have to let go of that and just go with the [new] material.”
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Are there plans for other John le Carré books to be adapted?
John le Carré is no stranger to having his work adapted on both the big and small screen, with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, A Most Wanted Man and Our Kind of Traitor all given the blockbuster treatment.
The success of The Night Manager saw a second of le Carré’s books, The Little Drummer Girl, adapted for the BBC by the same production company and starring Florence Pugh and Alexander Skarsgard, but it didn't hit the mark in quite the same way.
A third of le Carré’s books is now set to be turned into a drama, with his 1963 novel The Spy Who Came In From The Cold set to become a BBC mini-series.