Restless, a BBC TV two-parter which began this evening is based on a novel by William Boyd, and benefits from a marvellous cast, including Hayley Atwell, recently impressive in Falcon, as well as the eternally entrancing Charlotte Rampling. Add in (among others) the excellent Rufus Sewell and the magnificent Michael Gambon, and you were almost guaranteed something watchable.
And Restless certainly was watchable. Even its sedate pace (perhaps a total of three hours is more than strictly necessary to tell the story?) was fairly appealing. So were the various scenes in Cambridge, one of the most photogenic of cities. It's also a city associated with spies, of course, and Rampling played Eva, who in the 1970s reveals to her daughter that she has another identity; the woman her daughter knows was created when Eva was persuaded to join a branch of British Intelligence at the start of the Second World War.
There are two stories: first, what happened to young Eva (Hayley Atwell) during her career in espionage, and second, what happens to Eva in later life.Tension in the latter story-line builds because Eva is convinced that someone is out to kill her. Why this would be, after so many years, is the great mystery of Restless. I'm hoping for a strong and convincing explanation.
Although I have never been tempted to write a spy story, I do rather enjoy them, if they are well written. Spies trade in secrets, and secrets are always interesting. I used to enjoy Michael Gilbert' spy novels, and his stories about Calder and Behrens, for instance; they deserve to be better known. I haven't read Boyd's book, but the screenplay has me engaged, and I'll be watching episode two for sure.