The Ipcress File

A classic of Cold War Literature, Len Deighton's The Ipcress File is returning to the screen in 2021. Peter Gray reports.

Len Deighton’s twist laden spy novel, The Ipcress File, is set for a modern retelling this year courtesy of BAFTA Award winning writer John Hodge and ITV.

A tale of abducted scientists, brainwashing, inter- departmental rivalry, treason, and a possibly unwise romance, the book was one of the Deighton’s biggest hits, going on to sell over 10 million copies.

ITV’s adaptation of the novel will feature a screenplay by Hodge, best known for his work on Trainspotting, as well as a trio of stars in Joe Cole, Lucy Boynton, and Tom Hollander.

With first rate source material and a thrilling cast, The Ipcress File looks set to be one of the must watch TV shows of 2021.

Here’s everything you need to know about ITV’s forthcoming blockbuster:

What is the Ipcress file about?

The series follows British Army Sergeant Harry Palmer as he navigates 1960s Berlin. With the Cold War in full flight, the city is on a knife edge. For Palmer, however, Berlin is a city full of possibilities. Determined to do whatever it takes to make his fortune; the young soldier is soon up to his eyeballs in illegal enterprises until the law catches finally up with him.

Suddenly facing up to the prospect of eight years in jail, Palmer is delighted when British Intelligence comes knocking and offers him a job as a spy. His first case: the Ipcress File.

Sixteen top British scientists have inexplicably left their jobs at the peak of their careers. A seventeenth scientist, Dr Radcliffe, is abducted from a train in broad daylight with his security detailed killed.

Palmer is tasked with investigating the case and rescuing Dr Radcliffe.

Later, a search of a site suspected to have been used by the kidnappers an audiotape marked IPCRESS. Although the tape plays nothing but noise the strange acronym is later found to refer to a novel type of psychological conditioning. The process, “Induction of Psychoneuroses by Conditioned Reflex under Stress” seems to have been used on the scientists.

Can Palmer work solve the case and rescue Dr Radcliffe?

Who’s in the cast of the Ipcress File?

Gangs of London star Joe Cole plays Harry Palmer in the Ipcress File.

Cole is joined in the cast by Murder on the Orient Express’s Lucy Boynton in the role of and The Night Manager’s Tom Hollander as

Who’s behind the camera on the Ipcress File?

Screenwriter John Hodge is best known for his work on Danny Boyles’ iconic Trainspotting, which established Boyle’s reputation as a director and catapulted its stars, Ewan McGregor, and Robert Carlyle to stardom.

Since then, Hodge has worked on a variety of productions including big screen hits A Life Less Ordinary (1997) and The Beach (2000).

Emmy award-winning director James Watkins (Black Mirror) will direct the series, which will be made up of six hour long episodes.

The series is the first major production for the newly formed Altitude Television Group. Part of the highly successful Altitude Media Group, whose credits include Amy, Moonlight, Diego Maradona, Calm With Horses, Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans, and Rocks.

Will Clarke and Andy Mayson from Altitude will produce the Ipcress File alongside ITV Studios.

Clarke had this to say about the new production: “Altitude are delighted to be taking our first steps into Television as the company continues to grow and we are very excited to announce The Ipcress File as our debut production with our friends at ITV and ITV Studios.  James Watkins and I are both huge fans of Len Deighton’s Harry Palmer books and have wanted to film The Ipcress File for a long time. John Hodge’s incredible writing talents have wonderfully adapted those stories into a thrilling six-part series.”

ITV Head of Drama Polly Hill had this to say about the production: “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.”

Where was the Ipcress File filmed?

The Ipcress File will be filmed on location in Liverpool and Croatia during 2021. 

Is there a trailer for the Ipcress File?

Not yet…but watch this space!

When can we see The Ipcress File on the small screen?

No release date has yet been announced by ITV but watch this space!

More information about the Ipcress File can be found here.

For information on other forthcoming UK TV productions, please click here.


-London's Best Events-
What: new drama
When: tbc
Where: ITV
Website: IMDb