Joe Cole is Harry Palmer in the first look at ITV's adaptation of 'The Ipcress File'

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Tom Butler
·Senior Editor
·3 min read
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Joe Cole as Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File. (Altitude TV/ITV)
Joe Cole as Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File. (Altitude TV/ITV)

Peaky Blinders star Joe Cole is following in the footsteps of Sir Michael Caine in a new TV adaptation of The Ipcress File.

Cole, 32, is taking on the role of Harry Palmer, first made famous by Caine in the 1965 film of the same name, for a new adaptation of the 1962 Len Deighton novel coming soon to ITV.

Written by acclaimed screenwriter John Hodge (Shallow Grave/Trainspotting), The Ipcress File will be a six-part series, set in the 1960s, and directed by Emmy award-winner James Watkins (McMafia, Black Mirror, The Woman In Black).

Michael Caine on the set of 'The Ipcress File', 21st September 1964. (Photo by Ron Burton/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Michael Caine on the set of 'The Ipcress File', 21st September 1964. (Photo by Ron Burton/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

It tells the story of harry Palmer, an entrepreneurial army sergeant in post-war Berlin, who gets drawn into a life of espionage when the law catches up with his life of crime. He's given the chance to turn his life around by the secret service, with the Ipcress File his first job as a spook.

Read more: Michael Caine's new film slated by critics

Lucy Boynton (Bohemian Rhapsody) also stars alongside Tom Hollander as Major Dalby, Harry's handler.

Joe Cole as Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File. (Altitude TV/ITV)
Joe Cole as Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File. (Altitude TV/ITV)

Talking about the show, Hodge said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to inhabit a time when the post war world was morphing into the way we live now, when social mobility, civil rights, and modern feminism were forcing their way into public consciousness, and all of it happening with the world divided in two and both halves threatening to blow the whole thing sky high.”

Lucy Boynton as Jean in The Ipcress File. (Altitude TV/ITV)
Lucy Boynton as Jean in The Ipcress File. (Altitude TV/ITV)

ITV’s Head of Drama Polly Hill commissioned the series from Altitude and will oversee the drama from the channel’s perspective.

“I'm thrilled to be bringing John Hodge’s brilliant adaptation of such an iconic novel to ITV," commented Hill. 

"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.”

Tom Hollander as Dalby in The Ipcress File (Altitude TV/ITV)
Tom Hollander as Dalby in The Ipcress File (Altitude TV/ITV)

The original film, from James Bond co-producer Harry Saltzman, was a minor hit upon release and was praised for being "anti-007" in its unglamorous depiction of the world of espionage. It yielded two sequels: Funeral in Berlin (1966) and Billion Dollar Brain (1967), and Caine also returned as Palmer decades later in Bullet to Beijing (1995) and Midnight in Saint Petersburg (1996). 

Saltzman's children Hilary and Steven Saltzman are executive producing this new adaptation, which also stars Ashley Thomas (NYPD Blue, Top Boy, Salvation) as Maddox, Joshua James as Chico (Industry, Life, Absentia), David Dencik (McMafia, Face to Face, Chernobyl) as Colonel Stok and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (Dublin Murders, Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War) as Cathcart.

Watch: Joe Cole talks about A Prayer Before Dawn