Spectrum Originals and BritBox UK have ordered the adaptation of Ben Macintyre’s book to series. It comes over a year after Deadline first revealed the project, which then had Dominic West poised to star alongside Lewis.
It marks Lewis’ first gig since he exited Showtime’s Billions this week.
The series started production in London this week and also will shoot in Romania. It is produced by Sony Pictures Television, ITV Studios and Veritas Entertainment Group, with former Homeland exec producer Alexander Cary creator and exec producer alongside Lewis; via his production company, Ginger Biscuit Entertainment; and ITV Studios’ Patrick Spence.
It will air in the fall 2022 via Spectrum’s On Demand platform in the U.S. and in the UK via streamer BritBox, a joint venture between the BBC and ITV
A Spy Among Friends follows the defection of notorious British intelligence officer and KGB double agent, Kim Philby, played by Mare of Easttown’s Pearce, through the lens of his complex relationship with MI6 colleague and close friend, Nicholas Elliott (Lewis). The show examines espionage through their friendship, the fallout of which affects East-West relations to this day.
Philby was a British spy who notoriously defected to the Soviet Union in the 1950s, betraying secrets to the Russians in the early years of the Cold War. He and Elliott entered the spy game together, but as they rose through the MI6 ranks, Philby turned double agent.
Anna Maxwell Martin (Motherland), Stephen Kunken (Billions) and Adrian Edmondson (Back to Life) also star.
The limited series is exec produced and directed by Nick Murphy (A Christmas Carol) and produced by Chrissy Skinns (The Last Kingdom). Bob Bookman, Alan Gasmer, Peter Jaysen are executive producers for Veritas Entertainment Group.
“How could I resist the opportunity to dramatize the true story of Nicholas Elliott and Kim Philby — two spies and lifelong friends, one of whom was betraying the other all along?” said Cary. “A friendship that resulted in the gutting of British and American intelligence at the height of the Cold War and shaped the field of play for the dangerous game against Russia that we’re still trying to win today. Macintyre’s books about spies from recent history are relevant and exciting because they examine the larger universal themes of human behavior that drive individuals among us, and like us, to excel in the murky world of espionage and, for better or worse, leave a lasting impact on the world.”
Said Katherine Pope, Head of Spectrum Originals: “I’m incredibly excited about collaborating with BritBox UK and ITV Studios along with our partners at Sony on this project. This emotional thriller examines espionage through a deeply personal lens, and we are lucky enough to be in the hands of the brilliant Alex Cary, Nick Murphy, Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce whose dedication will yield a distinctly special series.”
Added Lauren Stein, EVP Drama Development at Sony Pictures Television: “Alex and I have worked together over the years so I was thrilled when we finally got him to join the Sony family. A Spy Among Friends was the first project he brought us and with the combination of Alex’s creative vision and the talent of Damian and Guy, we immediately knew this was a dream project. I couldn’t be more excited to be working on something so special.”
Lewis said: “I’m excited to be producing and starring in A Spy Among Friends. These fabulous scripts by Alex Cary take an up-close look at friendship – a friendship that was blinded by love, class and membership to the right clubs and ended in betrayal and the deaths of thousands. It’s been a fantastic creative process developing Spy, and now I can’t wait to start filming with Guy and all the other brilliant actors who’ve happily agreed to join us.”
Added Pearce: “It’s an honor to be a part of this thrilling project. I’ve always been fascinated by the intriguing MI6 history, and getting to go on this journey with Damian makes it all the more brilliant. I’m also very happy to be working again with the wonderful and talented Nick Murphy.”