Typical, you wait three years for a sequel to the terrific BBC film Page Eight, and then two come along at once.
Starring Bill Nighy as MI5 spy Johnny Worricker, Page Eight was shown to great acclaim in 2011, and now writer-director David Hare returns with the final two instalments of The Worricker Trilogy, the first of which – Turks and Caicos – is shown on Thursday.
Picking up where the last one left off, we find Worricker out of a job having walked from the MI5. He heads to the airport to choose his next destination at random, opting for the obscure Turks and Caicos Islands in the West Indies. Unfortunately for our hero, once there an encounter with a CIA agent forces him into the company of some dubious American businessmen who are on the islands for a high-level conference on the world financial crisis.
As he learns more about the extent of their nefarious schemes, he ends up having to fight for his own survival as he uncovers links to British prime minister Alec Beasley – the very man who led to his exile to begin with.
It is, it seems, a small world...
Asides from the terrific plot and taught direction courtesy of Hare, the show features a phenomenal cast: Christopher Walken, Helena Bonham Carter, Winona Ryder and Ralph Fiennes all star alongside Nighy in this instalment.
Hare remarks: “We have assembled a most extraordinary cast for these two films. I think there may be two reasons – first and foremost, because so many actors want to appear alongside Bill Nighy, but secondly, because people responded so strongly to the feeling of Page Eight,” explaining that he felt the first film featured “all the fun of spy fiction, I hope, but, for once, bang up to date and based in the real intelligence dilemmas of the last 10 years”.
Perhaps another big draw for the big names is the production company: Carnival Films, who are also responsible for Downton Abbey. Carnival’s MD Gareth Neame says: “After the success of Page Eight I am delighted to be working with David Hare on his next films. Once again David has gathered a world class cast alongside Bill Nighy whose portrayal of Johnny Worricker captivated audiences in 2011”
The next instalment, Salting the Battlefield, is already in the can, so we’re promised that we won’t have another three-year wait to find out what’s next for Worricker. Saskia Reeves and Judy Davis join the cast for the final instalment, which finds the spy on the run across Europe with long-standing romantic interest Margot Tyrell – only to find that life in exile isn’t as easy as either of them hoped, pushing Johnny into a final confrontation with the PM.
Crikey – we can hardly wait!
TURKS & CAICOS, BBC2, THURSDAY 9pm