On March 27th BBC One aired the ﬁnal episode of their six-part mini series, The Night Manager. Sustained continually with incredibly high viewing numbers – 10.18 million viewers tuning in for the ﬁrst episode alone – the success is certainly not underserved.
The epic series, dubbed by The Sun as ‘one of the greatest series of all time’, follows soldier-turned-hotel night manager Jonathan Pine as he is recruited to help take down the chilling arms dealer, Richard Roper. Tom Hiddleston plays the part of Pine, while Hugh Laurie takes the role of Roper.
The dynamic between the two throughout the series is one of intensity and intrigue, with their relationship evolving from one of suspicion to one of almost a paternal nature. Admittedly the viewer does have to extend their dramatic belief slightly to allow Pine to be accepted by Roper so quickly within the six episode restriction, it is nevertheless carried off with gripping and compelling tension.
The series was adapted by the novel of the same name by John le Carre published in 1933, the feel of the series is a successful combination of classic and glamorous espionage, and the gritty political issues of the immediate present. The current Syrian crisis for example underlies the arms deals made by Roper, while the character played by Olivia Coleman man originally a male character in the novel.
Coleman’s real-life pregnancy was not hidden in the series either, adding another dynamic and issue to the story as she aims to balance work-life with her personal life. In typical Coleman-style, her performance was stripped back and raw, with her character being merge of biting humour and wry resolution.
However, while the series has a strong relationship to the present and to the issues speciﬁc to the here-and-now, it nevertheless has a classic feel reminiscent of a Bond ﬁlm. The costumes worn by the cast, in particular by Elizabeth Debecki – who played Jed, the girlfriend of Roper – have sparked off a discussion of themselves outside of the series.
Debecki discussed the importance of Jed’s wardrobe when speaking to The Telegraph, saying that “her dress sense was really important too – not just because it had to reﬂect her status but hint at her character.”
With each episode costing approximately £3 million per episode, the glamour and visually stunning nature of the series extended not only to the costumes but also the extensive array of locations, from Devon, Majorca, Marrakech, Zermatt and more. With martinis being ordered and casinos being frequented, the reasons behind the Bond comparison is clear.
Like Bond, Hiddleston’s character is smooth and charming, with a hint of a past that has been shrouded in regret or trauma. The ambiguity of his character adds to his intrigue.
Released a box set almost immediately after the ﬁnal episode aired, The Night Manager is complex yet not over-complicated, with both extravagance and grittiness.