The show is based on the eponymous 2014 New York Times-bestselling book by Ben Macintyre, and produced by Sony Pictures Television, ITV Studios and Veritas Entertainment Group. Lewis will also serve as an executive producer through his production company, Ginger Biscuit Entertainment. Alexander Cary is creator and executive producer alongside ITV Studios’ Patrick Spence and Nick Murphy.
The six-part series began production in London this week and also will shoot in Romania. It will debut exclusively on ITV and BBC-owned streamer BritBox in the U.K. and Spectrum’s on-demand platform in the U.S. in the fall of 2022.
Other cast members include Anna Maxwell Martin (“Motherland,” “Line of Duty”), Stephen Kunken (“Billions,” “The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Adrian Edmondson (“Back to Life,” “The Pact”).
Cary, in describing the plot, said the show dramatized the true story of spies and lifelong friends Nicholas Elliott (Lewis) and Kim Philby (Pearce), one of whom was betraying the other all along. “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,” said Cary.
“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,” he continued.
The show is directed by BAFTA winner Nick Murphy (“Save Me”) and is produced by BAFTA winner Chrissy Skinns (“Elizabeth is Missing”). Bob Bookman, Alan Gasmer and Peter Jaysen are executive producers for Veritas Entertainment Group.
Will Harrison, managing director for BritBox U.K., said: “We’ve sought out the highest calibre writing, acting, directorial and production talent to create exceptional original British programming for BritBox. ‘A Spy Among Friends’ is the epitome of this and will provide a new and thrilling, must-watch show for subscribers.”
Katherine Pope, head of Spectrum Originals, added: “I’m incredibly excited about collaborating with BritBox U.K. 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.”
Meanwhile, Lewis said Cary’s “fabulous scripts” 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.”
The actor continued: “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.”
Pearce, who recently starred in the Emmy-winning “Mare of Easttown” for HBO, said: “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.”