ITV has ordered a television adaptation of The Ipcress File.
This new “enthralling and atmospheric” version of The Ipcress File has been written by BAFTA winner John Hodge (Trainspotting, The Beach).
The six-part series will star Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders) as Harry Palmer, alongside Lucy Boynton (Bohemian Rhapsody) and Tom Hollander (The Night Manager).
Set against the backdrop of Cold War Europe in Berlin and London during the Sixties, The Ipcress File is described as “a stylish and tense tale of abducted scientists, brainwashing, inter- departmental rivalry, treason, and a possibly unwise romance.”
Len Deighton’s 1962 book introduced the character of iconic British spy Harry Palmer and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
The official synopsis reads: “It’s 1963. Cold war rages between West and East. Nuclear bombers are permanently airborne. In this highly charged atmosphere, we join Harry Palmer – a British army sergeant on the make in Berlin. In this newly partitioned city, a sharp working-class young man with sophisticated tastes can make a lot of money. Wholesaler, retailer, fixer, smuggler, Harry’s varied interests bring him into contact with everything and everyone – until the law catches up and it all comes crashing to a halt.
“Harry finds himself sentenced to eight years in a grim military jail in England, all his prospects abruptly torn away.
“But his impressive network and efficiency have not gone unnoticed, and a gentleman from British intelligence has a proposal. To avoid prison, Harry Palmer will become a spy. And the case on which he cuts his teeth will be The Ipcress File.
“Harry’s links to the man suspected of kidnapping a missing British nuclear scientist result in him being conscripted for a dangerous undercover mission that takes him from the Beatles’ London to the Berlin Wall, from the back alleys of Beirut to the white hot sand of a Nuclear Atoll in the Pacific.”
ITV’s Head of Drama Polly Hill commented: “I’m thrilled to be bringing John Hodge’s brilliant adaptation of such an iconic novel to ITV. Harry Palmer is an incredible part and this would have been impossible without the right actor, so we are all delighted that Joe Cole will take on the role. The talent on and off screen means this will be a treat for audiences when it comes to ITV.”
Writer John Hodge added:“This is a wonderful opportunity to inhabit a time when the post war world was morphing into the way we live now, when social mobility, civil rights, and modern feminism were forcing their way into public consciousness, and all of it happening with the world divided in two and both halves threatening to blow the whole thing sky high.”
The adaptation is being positioned as potentially the beginning of a series of adaptations of Deighton’s novels.
Ruth Berry at ITV Studios revealed: “Being the first in a series of books featuring the intriguing Harry Palmer, it also has potential to run and run.”
The Ipcress File will begin filming next year on location in Croatia and Liverpool, England.
Len Deighton’s original novel is available on Amazon.