The Ipcress File was a smash hit when it debuted on ITV in March 2022, holding its own in the ratings against Peaky Blinders' final season. Fans have known for a while that the series had been picked up over here by AMC Networks and was planned for a streaming run on flagship streaming service AMC+ set for later this spring. Thankfully, we now have an actual day and date to go along with it, with the thriller kicking off in late May and a schedule of how the series will air. ITV split the difference by doing weekly episodes on broadcast while dropping it as a binge on streaming, but it looks like AMC+ plans to let fans have one installment at a time.
The new series is based on the 1962 debut novel The IPCRESS File by Len Deighton. Arriving at a time when James Bond was all the rage, it was quickly picked up and turned into a movie starring Michael Caine, in 1965, as a semi-downbeat working-class alternative to the tuxedoed and sophisticated 007. Not only did the film win the top prize at the BAFTAs that year, but four sequels followed, a second and third film in the 1960s and then two revivals (also starring Caine) in the 1990s. The new version is not an adaptation of the movies but instead draws directly from the books.
From all (positive) reviews from the show's debut across the pond, this series is not strictly faithful to the material — several described it as a "very loose" adaptation of the original. The "Cold War Brainwashing" story was extensively reworked. (One assumes "IPCRESS" still stands for "Induction of Psycho-neuroses by Conditioned Reflex under Stress.") The series also altered some of the characters radically, including giving the leading lady more to do and diversifying the characters. New material has also been added to update the story and make it more in line with the times. In short, this is a very 2020 version of a cold war spy story, despite the 1963 period setting.
Here's the series synopsis:
The enthralling and atmospheric drama stars iconic British spy Harry Palmer. The twist-laden spy thriller offers a stylish and tense tale of abducted scientists, brainwashing, inter-departmental rivalry, treason, and a possibly unwise romance. Set in Berlin and London during the 1960s, The Ipcress File follows Harry Palmer – a British army sergeant on the make in Berlin during the height of the Cold War. In the 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.
The series stars Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders) as the lead spy, Harry Palmer, with Lucy Boynton (Why Didn't They Ask Evans?) as his love interest and partner in spying, Jean Courtney. Tom Hollander (Us) plays Palmer's boss, Major Dalby. The series also features Paul Bazely (The Hollow Crown), Petar Cvirn (Before We Die), Ashley Thomas (The Night Of), Tamla Kari (Britannia), David Dencik (Chernobyl), Nora-Jane Noone (Wildfire), and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Dublin Murders). All six episodes were directed by James Watkins (McMafia).
The Ipcress File premieres on AMC+ on Thursday, May 19, 2022, and will stream on a weekly release schedule with one new episode a week through June 23. No word as yet if the series will come to linear AMC, but if it winds up a hit over here, I would not be surprised. Season 2 has not yet been greenlit.