‘A Spy Among Friends’ reviews round-up: ‘Simply superb’ or ‘a tad stuffy’?

ITV’s new espionage drama A Spy Among Friends is now streaming!

Based on the book by Ben Macintyre, the six-part mini-series dramatises the true story of Nicholas Elliott and Kim Philby, two British spies and lifelong friends.

Damian Lewis (Homeland) and Guy Pearce (Memento) lead the cast as Cold War spies Elliott and Philby, alongside Anna Maxwell Martin (The Bletchley Circle), Stephen Kunken (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Adrian Edmondson (The Pact).

Watch the trailer here:

The official synopsis for Episode 1 reads: “In the wake of Kim Philby’s escape to Moscow, his closest friend in Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (also known as MI6.), Nicholas Elliott, is under investigation by Mrs. Lily Thomas from the Security Service (MI5).

“Did he facilitate Philby’s escape because he’s also a traitor working for the Russians, or is it just that his judgement was clouded at a critical moment by their twenty-three year friendship? Or maybe, just maybe, he in fact had the last laugh having manipulated Philby to run to the bosom of the KGB for foreign intelligence purposes.”

Watch a clip here:

All six episodes of A Spy Among Friends were made available to watch on ITV’s new free streaming platform ITVX yesterday, ahead of the show’s broadcast on ITV in 2023.

We’ve rounded up a spoiler-free selection of reviews to help you decide if you’d like to watch the series.


“Don’t take your eyes off this star-packed espionage thriller … Guy Pearce is a charismatic traitor, Damian Lewis is an enigma and Anna Maxwell Martin carries along a fabulous drama that’s full of excitement – if a tad stuffy.” ★★★ – The Guardian


A Spy Among Friends will garner rave reviews when it airs on mainstream ITV next year. It’s simply superb … Anyone who relishes the extended interrogations in Line of Duty will be mesmerised by this six-part series, which amounts to one long cross-examination.” ★★★★★ – Daily Mail


“ITVX’s big-budget adaptation is like a slug of hot mulled wine … For an ITV drama, the production design, too, is unusually lavish – influenced, perhaps, by the smoky rooms and tweedy men of Tomas Alfredson’s 2011 adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” ★★★ – The Independent


“A cerebral and fiendish remix of the Kim Philby tale … Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce are magnificent in a satisfyingly complex drama which focuses on Philby’s escape to Beirut in 1963.” – The Telegraph


“Stick with it – if you can bear the doom and gloom … The spy drama takes a long while to get going, but underneath the misery lurks a compelling tale of sleuthing, festering secrets and class angst.” ★★★ – iNews


“Guy Pearce and Damian Lewis in a poised tale of betrayal … Between the boys’ club mentality in the halls of power and the looming Russian threat, you could almost forget the period setting.” ★★★★ – Financial Times


“Damian Lewis is impossibly po-faced in this buttoned-up espionage drama. Terrific cast, disappointing material.” ★★★ – Evening Standard


A Spy Among Friends will premiere in the US on MGM+ soon.

Ben Macintyre’s book A Spy Among Friends is available on Amazon.