The Game–Play or Die!

PICTURE SHOWS: (left to right) Alan Montag (JONATHAN ARIS), Sarah Montag (VICTORIA HAMILTON), Jim Fenchurch (SHAUN DOOLEY),  Joe Lambe (TOM HUGHES), Wendy (CHLOE PIRRIE), Daddy (BRIAN COX), Bobby Waterhouse (PAUL RITTER)

The Game, an intense new espionage drama from Toby Whithouse (Being Human, Doctor Who) is coming to BBC America.

‘A complex invisible war is being fought by skilled spies trained in the high stakes world of covert espionage. In 1972 London, tensions are at a terrifying peak as the world’s super powers plot against their enemies. The threat: a dangerous and deadly Soviet plot, designed to bring Britain to its knees, dubbed Operation Glass.’ And so begins The Game, a series that weaves character development with the tension and thriller we expect from an espionage series.

Assassins, defections, deadly secrets and and a sinister Soviet woven together at a time when espionage was its peak. The Game premieres Wednesday, November 5th (10/9C) as part of BBC America’s Dramaville. Follow the jump for more.


In the secret world of espionage, the players are set and the fight to save Britain begins

A complex invisible war is being fought by skilled spies trained in the high stakes world of covert espionage. In 1972 London, tensions are at a terrifying peak as the world’s super powers plot against their enemies. The threat: a dangerous and deadly Soviet plot, designed to bring Britain to its knees, dubbed Operation Glass. This is where The Game begins – a stylish, character-driven spy drama that explores the lives and lies of the invisible soldiers fighting a secret war. When an MI5 agent is contacted by a defecting KGB officer about the plan to destroy the British establishment, MI5 leader, Daddy (Brian Cox, The Bourne Supremacy, An Adventure in Space and Time), assembles a secret committee to investigate the threat in a frantic race against time. Their mission: stop the plot, save Britain and in turn, the world. The Game, a suspenseful six-part, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride, created by Toby Whithouse (Being Human, Doctor Who), premieres Wednesday, November 5 at 10:00pm ET as part BBC AMERICA’s Dramaville

With the game on and the players set, Secret Services on both sides of the Iron Curtain will exploit any weakness to further their aims. MI5 agent, Joe Lambe (Tom Hughes, Dancing on the Edge, Cemetery Junction), is one of the best Daddy has; a handsome, enigmatic agent who is an expert at undercover work, but haunted by the loss of his lover and his own ­­betrayal against his country.  When he is contacted by defecting KGB officer, Arkady Malinov (Marcel Lures, Pirates of the Caribbean, Foyles War), with details of the deadly scheme, his instincts tells him it’s very real. And while the threat to Britain is unclear, it is elaborate enough to cause the charismatic but paranoid Daddy to spring into action.  With the Soviets waking sleeper agents across the UK, Daddy’s team must track them down, one by one, before they carry out their part in the great game.  The players are agents – some better than others – trained in the art of persuasion, interrogation and new technology. Joining Joe is Bobby Waterhouse (Paul Ritter, Quantum of Solace, Friday Night Dinner), the career-climbing mummy’s boy with connections to Britain’s high-society, whose private life could ruin him; Sarah Montag (Victoria Hamilton, Lark Rise to Candleford, What Remains), an intelligent and tough agent whose rise in the male-dominated field of espionage makes her formidable; Alan Montag (Jonathan Aris, Sherlock, Bright Star), MI5’s socially awkward technology brain, and husband to Sarah; Wendy Straw (Chloe Pirrie, Misfits, Black Mirror), a mousy secretary seizing the opportunity to prove her worth and climb the ladder; and on loan to the committee, Jim Fenchurch (Shaun Dooley, The White Queen, Misfits), a no frills police liaison unimpressed by MI5, dispatched by Special Branch to aid in the investigation.  Together, this hodge-podge team, whose success or lack thereof could change the course of espionage, must solve the mystery and neutralize the threat before it’s too late. And with an enemy who murders, tortures and uses brutal tactics to achieve their goals, the team will need to raise their game to the highest level.

A sexy, smart and explosive depiction of the Cold War, The Game takes viewers back to a time when the proliferation of espionage was at an all-time high.  With relations between the Soviet Union and Britain fractured due to the former’s occupation of Eastern Europe, the series shines a light on how spying and covert operations further damaged the two nations’ relationship.  The KGB, accused of countless crimes, dispatched spies all over Britain to embed themselves alongside her finest in order to infiltrate and later, carry out acts of terror.  Those who lived through these trying times will instantly relate to the tension, uncertainty and the palpable fear that life as you knew it, could change in an instant.

The Game is a BBC Cymru Wales production for BBC One. The series is created and written by Toby Whithouse with episodes written by Debbie O’Malley and Sarah Dollard. It is directed by Niall MacCormick and Daniel O’Hara and executive produced by Hilary Salmon and Toby Whithouse.


?Joe Lambe                                Tom Hughes (Dancing on the Edge, Cemetery Junction)

Daddy                                      Brian Cox (The Bourne Supremacy, An Adventure in Space and Time)

Bobby Waterhouse                  Paul Ritter (Quantum of Solace, Friday Night Dinner)                

Sarah Montag                            Victoria Hamilton (Lark Rise to Candleford, What Remains)

Alan Montag                             Jonathan Aris (Sherlock, Bright Star)

Jim Fenchurch                          Shaun Dooley (The White Queen, Misfits)

Wendy Straw                           Chloe Pirrie (Misfits, Black Mirror)

Arkady                                     Marcel Lures (Pirates of the Caribbean, Foyles War)

Odin                                        Jevgenij Sitochin (The Bourne Supremacy)

Yulia                                         Zana Marjanovic (In the Land of Blood and Honey)


Hester  Waterhouse                Judy Parfitt (Call The Midwife, Little Dorrit)

Tom Mallory                            Steven Mackintosh (Kick-Ass 2, Luther)

C                                          Anton Lesser (Game of Thrones, Ripper Street)

Creator and Writer                  Toby Whithouse (Being Human, Doctor Who)

Writers                                  Toby Whithouse (Eps 1, 2, 5, 6)

                                            Debbie O’Malley (Ep 4)

                                            Sarah Dollard (Eps 3, 5)

Directors                                Niall MacCormick (Wallander)

                                            Daniel O’Hara (Being Human)

Executive Producers                Hilary Salmon

                                            Toby Whithouse

Producer                                  Radford Neville

The Game is a BBC Cymru Wales production for BBC One.



DADDY (Brian Cox)

Powerfully built, both physically and intellectually, Daddy is the mastermind that holds MI5 together. No one knows his real name, only his ironic nickname. A man of immense political power, and a Whitehall veteran, Daddy knows the true scale of the threats facing Britain. Bearing the scars of the multiple failures of MI5, Operation Glass is Daddy’s last chance to restore the reputation of the agency. But will his specially selected committee be loyal to him, or loyal to themselves?  For Daddy has his own secrets that could jeopardize everything he’s worked so hard to achieve.  His growing infatuation with an exquisite Chinese dancer, too young and too beautiful for him, is a dangerous game for a powerful married man.


JOE LAMBE (Tom Hughes)

Joe is a gifted intelligence officer who is an expert at undercover work.  He’ll go to any length to gather the intel he needs, including and often time, flirting with the enemy. MI5 makes good use of his brooding good looks and charm, but bedding forgotten wives isn’t the career Joe was destined for.  Everything in his life changed after he met and recruited Yulia, a chef in the Soviet embassy. Though the affair was brief, it was charged with the kind of intensity and desperate immediacy that can only happen in wartime. And after years of service, Joe allowed himself the hope of a new life without secrets or deceit.  But when Joe loses his lover in a brutal way, he returns to MI5, bringing the weight of his secrets with him.  When Daddy recruits him in the mission to stop the Soviet plot, Joe accepts; hoping to redeem himself and prove his loyalty to his country, but mostly because the mission will lead him to his lover’s killer. Can he start afresh or will he be forever consumed by a quest for revenge?



Bobby Waterhouse is the arrogant, louche and ambitious Head of K Branch (counter-espionage), who will do anything to get ahead. Harrow, Oxford, and the Secret Service have given him confidence, wit, and an impressive address book that gets him access to every corner of the British Establishment. But at home, he is like someone living in a country under occupation, treading on eggshells for fear of antagonizing his ferocious mother, Hester (Judy Parfitt, Call The Midwife, Little Dorrit).  While he’s good at his job, Bobby’s successes aren’t quite enough to ensure his place in line for the top job. Lacking respect, and having never been married, engaged or even involved with a suitable woman, his domineering mother has noticed. And though homosexuality has recently been legalized, the Hester’s of this world see things differently, as do Bobby’s enemies on both sides of the Iron Curtain. If the world knew his secret, Bobby’s carefully built image and career would crumble around him.


SARAH MONTAG (Victoria Hamilton)

Wry, sardonic and very bright, the chances are Sarah will be the first female director of MI5. She’s worked hard to progress in the boorish male dominated world of espionage and Daddy has noticed. Though Bobby Waterhouse desperately seeks Daddy’s throne, it is Sarah –‘Daddy’s girl’- who looks set to be his successor. Hers is the opinion everyone seeks and her instincts are invaluable in this shadowy world. Sarah, though universally liked, can be incredibly tough when she needs to be. Married to colleague Alan Montag, she is one of the few senior officers who maintains a happy home life alongside her work.  While her timid husband would blink in bewilderment when insulted, Sarah returns the blow with devastating accuracy and protects her husband like a lioness. But will her ascendance up the ladder tamper with the delicate balance she’s managed to maintain at home?


ALAN MONTAG (Jonathan Aris)

In the 21st Century, Alan Montag would most likely be a multi-millionaire software maker.  But this is the ‘70s and his wizardry is most useful for MI5. A part of the assembled team, the eccentric, disheveled and enthusiastic Alan has a phone number length IQ, egg stains on his tie, and is utterly immune to the wearying politics and power plays of MI5.  Thankfully he has the small but fearsome Sarah Montag, his wife, to watch out for him. His devotion to her is almost tangible, and Alan is never happier than when working at her side. Although he is talented, it’s Sarah whose career is beginning to glitter, and her marriage to this loveable oddball has raised many an eyebrow. But their affection is genuine, their relationship strong and loving, and Alan would do absolutely anything to protect her.


JIM FENCHURCH (Shaun Dooley)

Jim Fenchurch is the Special Branch police liaison assisting the MI5 team with their new investigation. Jim has a simplistic, perhaps idealistic, view of the world and is almost aggressively plain speaking. The notion of treachery almost bewilders him. A volatile and punchy outsider, he’s not constrained by the MI5 hierarchy and free to comment on methods and modes of conduct he finds baffling. Jim sees things in black and white, but will soon come to realize that in the world of espionage, life is lived in a shadowy gray. MI5 must break rules to keep the Soviets at bay, making Jim uneasy. But being thrown into partnering with Joe Lambe, he’ll learn first-hand about the dangerous work that goes on to keep the world safe from nuclear war and may come to understand the complexities of espionage.


WENDY STRAW (Chloe Pirrie)

Wendy has been a secretary at MI5 for a few years.  While Sarah Montag climbed to a power position, progression for women is still a battle. So when Wendy is loaned to the team from the ‘Nannies’, Wendy sees it as a chance to prove herself and get one step closer to a crucial promotion to Junior Desk Officer, following in the footsteps of the revered Sarah.  The youngest member of the team, Wendy is there to take notes and assist them all, but in doing so, she sees deeper than anyone else. And in the politically treacherous world of MI5, she must be careful about the alliances she makes.  When unexpected support comes from the conniving Bobby Waterhouse, Wendy may get a lot more than she bargained for.



A defecting KGB officer seeking solace in the arms of the British intelligence agency, Arkady Malinov is risking everything to help MI5 solve the Soviet plot that even he is unsure about.  But why? Is it dissatisfaction with his government position or something more?  Where his loyalties lie no one knows, but he’s all MI5 has and he’ll use that to his advantage. When a sleeper agent’s name is revealed, he’ll make contact and dispatch a message, most of which is given in puzzle form.  And as he works with Agent Joe Lambe, a trail of bodies are left in their quest to solve the mystery. 



London 1972. When a defecting KGB officer, Arkady Malinov, reveals Operation Glass, a devastating Soviet plot that could change the course of the cold war, Daddy, the head of MI5, assembles a secret team to investigate.  As the Soviets awaken a list of sleeper agents all over Britain, Daddy’s team must move swiftly to gain information about the plot.  But when Joe Lambe, Daddy’s prized agent, becomes obsessed with the reappearance of a dangerous nemesis, a Soviet agent codenamed ‘Odin’, he risks letting his personal vendetta jeopardize the operation.  Written by Toby Whithouse.


The next agent on the Soviet list, Tom Mallory, is a brutal man currently in prison for assault.  Without his freedom, he can’t perform his task and bring MI5 one step closer to thwarting Operation Glass – leaving Daddy with a terrible choice.  Joe, haunted by events in his past, continues to struggle with his lover’s killer’s role in the plot. But when it’s revealed that a possible nuclear strike is imminent, Joe makes a deadly decision to stop the information from falling into enemy hands.

Written by Toby Whithouse.  Guest starring:  Steven Mackintosh


The team discovers a sleeper agent with terrifying connections in the US military.  Faced with a formidable foe who not only appears to be a traitor, but a trained spy with access to US bases, MI5 may be out of its league.   Meanwhile, Daddy is on a mission of his own to secure the safe defection of his favorite Chinese dancer. But when his assistant, Wendy, goes to carry out the admin, Bobby Waterhouse catches wind and manipulates plans to gain information about Daddy’s secret life for his own personal gain. Written by Sarah Dollard. Guest starring: Anton Lesser


Discovering the KGB is one step ahead, Joe tries to convince the team to run a double agent scheme – a perilous game that understandably makes his colleagues uneasy.   But with dangerous assassin Odin at large, the team is unsure KGB defector, Arkady, would risk his life to help them.  Meanwhile, Alan grapples with a shocking discovery that could jeopardize his marriage to fellow agent and wife, Sarah.  Bobby’s world begins to unravel when Daddy thwarts his attempts at ascendance and raises questions that threaten to destroy his career. Written by Debbie O’Malley. 


The team is reeling from the shocking discovery of a mole among them, and as the Soviet plot continues unabated, it is up to Wendy to give the team the break they need.  Meanwhile, when Sarah finds herself in danger, Alan is forced to make a decision that can make or break their relationship.  Joe has trouble of his own when leaked information threatens the investigation and the lives of the team. Written by Toby Whithouse and Sarah Dollard.



The team is reeling from a KGB bombing and the mole’s confession, but with Operation Glass hurtling towards a shocking climax, MI5 is running out of time to piece the puzzle together and avert disaster.  Bobby and Wendy make a crucial discovery which could have implications at the highest levels of government. Written by Toby Whithouse.

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Photos by Des Willie/Courtesy of BBC America