In ‘Slow Horses,’ Disgraced Spies Get a Shot a Redemption

“Slow Horses” is an upcoming Apple TV+ series about a team of MI5 British intelligence operatives banished to an off-site dumping ground after making serious mistakes on the job. Here in the USA, they’d probably just get canned, but the idea over there seems to be making them miserable enough to quit.

Gary Oldman, who won a Best Actor Oscar for playing Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour,” stars as Jackson Lamb, the probably alcoholic veteran spy tasked with managing a team of what he calls “losers.” The trailer for the series shows that Oldman has fully embraced the unshowered and unshaven sloppiness of his character. He looks like a mess.

The series is based on a series of novels by Mick Herron, who first published “Slow Horses” in 2010. The book was a flop in the UK, but American publisher Soho House picked up Herron’s next two novels as US-only titles.

That’s right. Novels about the UK’s internal intelligence service weren’t published in the UK Mark Richards, an editor at British publishing house John Murray, convinced Herron to give him a shot at issuing the books in the UK in 2015. They still didn’t find an audience. The publisher didn’t give up, and “Slow Horses” became a bestseller in 2017, seven years after it was first published.

Audiences quickly discovered the other books in the series, and now there’s a very high-profile show based on the first book. Deadline reports that the producers shot a second series immediately after the first, so we’re going to see another run of shows based on Herron’s novel, “Dead Lions,” before too long.

If the show is as good as the novels, the series could continue for years, with seven books currently in print and an eighth novel in the series, “Bad Actors,” scheduled for release in May 2022.

In the novel, Lamb’s team is headquartered at an off-site dump called “Slough House.” His group gets dragged into a mission to rescue a Muslim British citizen who’s been kidnapped and marked for execution by a group of right-wing names. Can MI5 locate the terrorists before they kill the young man? It’s a British espionage situation, so nothing will be straightforward as the operation unravels.

Lamb’s team includes River Cartwright (played by Jack Lowden, “Dunkirk”), Sid Baker (Olivia Cooke, star of HBO’s upcoming “Game of Thrones” prequel, “House of the Dragon”), Louisa Guy (Rosalind Eleazar, “Harlots” ), Min Harper (Dustin-Demri Burns, “Britannia”), Catherine Standish (Saskia Reeves, “Luther”), Struan Loy (Paul Higgins, AMC’s upcoming series remake of “The Ipcress File”), Jed Moody (Steven Waddington) and Roddy Ho (Christopher Chung).

Looking down on Slough House from MI5 headquarters is Diana Taverner (Kristin Scott Thomas, “The English Patient”), who’s in charge of the operation and has some issues with Lamb. She’s aided by “Spider” Webb (Freddie Fox, a dead ringer for his dad, legendary actor Edward Fox from “A Bridge Too Far” and “The Day of the Jackal”).

“Slow Horses” was adapted from the books by writer Will Smith (“Veep”), and the entire series was directed by James Hawes, best known for his work on the television series “Black Mirror,” “Doctor Who,” “The Alienist,” “Snowpiercer” and “Penny Dreadful.”

“Slow Horses” will debut with two episodes on April 1, 2022, with each of the final four episodes to premiere every Friday for the rest of the month.

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