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29 October 2014
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The story of the most infamous spies in British history is to be made into a major drama for BBC TWO

Cambridge Spies - the story of the most notorious spies in British history - is to be made into a major drama for BBC TWO, Jane Tranter, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning, has announced.

A star cast of Tom Hollander, Rupert Penry-Jones, Toby Stephens and Samuel West is to play Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Kim Philby and Anthony Blunt from the beginning of their careers as spies in a four-part drama written by Peter Moffat, produced by Mark Shivas and directed by Tim Fywell.

At Cambridge University in 1934, four young men are courted by Soviet agents and recruited into a world of covert intelligence and espionage.

Fired by youthful idealism, passionately committed to social justice and to fighting fascism, they are bonded by friendship based on shared conviction and shared sacrifice.

Peter Moffat says: "This is the story of four young but devastatingly effective double-agents who knew from the start that they stood or fell together.

"Burgess is the loudest spy in the history of espionage, a gifted gob and wicked wit. Philby is the most successful spy of the lot, becoming Head of Counter-Intelligence in MI6. Blunt is cool, viciously funny and clever, while Maclean veers between being warm and friendly and drunk and difficult.

"Until Burgess and Maclean’s desperate flight to Moscow on 23 June 1951 they live in each other’s pockets.”

Producer Mark Shivas says: "Burgess, Maclean, Philby and Blunt believed that what they were doing was not betraying their country, but serving it. But how long can you hold on to youthful idealism?

"Peter Moffat's script is about friendship, passion and conviction - it's about how far they were prepared to go to realise their ideals, and their unshakeable faith in their beliefs.”

BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning, Jane Tranter says: "This is an ambitious drama for BBC TWO - a fresh take on the story of the Cambridge Spy ring, which begins at the start of their spying careers.

"Peter Moffat has drawn out its contemporary resonance for a modern audience focussing on their steadfast belief in communism and the passions that drove them to betrayal and huge personal sacrifice."

Toby Stephens plays Kim Philby and his credits for BBC include Perfect Strangers and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. He will shortly be seen as the villain in the new James Bond film.

Tom Hollander plays Guy Burgess and is currently filming The Lost Prince for BBC. His most recent film credits include Gosford Park and Lawless Heart.

Samuel West is Anthony Blunt and his film credits include Iris, Frankie and Johnny, and Notting Hill. His television credits include Waking The Dead (BBC) and Longitude (ITV).

Donald Maclean is played by Rupert Penry-Jones whose film credits include Charlotte Gray, Hilary and Jackie and Bent. He starred alongside Helen McCrory and Phil Davies in Channel 4’s legal drama North Square (C4) which was created and written by Peter Moffat.

Tim Fywell's directing credits include Madame Bovary, North Square and The Woman In White, as well as the forthcoming feature film I Capture The Castle.

Producer Mark Shivas was formerly Head of Drama and Head of Films at the BBC. His credits include Talking Heads 2, The Glittering Prizes, The Six Wives of Henry VIII and the feature film A Private Function.

Cambridge Spies is a BBC TWO production in association with Perpetual Motion Pictures Ltd. The executive producers are Laura Mackie, Gareth Neame, and Sally Woodward.

Cambridge Spies begins filming in September at locations in England, Spain and the USA.



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