• Grace

The Worricker Trilogy


A star-studded, slow-burning trio of British spy thrillers.


Streaming on Amazon Prime | 2011-14 | TV-14 | 3 90-minute installments


Genre: Spy thriller(ish), political drama

Why I watched: I'm really drawn to miniseries these days. They're not a huge commitment, but they offer the opportunity for slightly more investment than a movie. I was scanning Prime for just such a series when I stumbled across The Worricker Trilogy—and I couldn't believe I'd never heard of it before! 

You might also like: Once again I say: Have you watched Bodyguard on Netflix yet? Also, The Worricker Trilogy will likely put you in the mood for some 007 action. For a smattering of classic Bond films, check out Hulu and Amazon Prime


What a cast! And this is just a small fraction of it. From the top left, clockwise: Bill Nighy, Helena Bonham Carter, Felicity Jones, Shazad Latif, Ralph Fiennes, Rupert Graves.

The Worricker Trilogy has absolutely none of the heart-beating intensity of Bodyguard, another spy-adjacent thriller series from BBC. Rather, it is a gold mine of slow-building intrigue, revealed smoothly and undramatically. Bill Nighy brings little of his signature cookyness (à la Love Actually) to the role of veteran MI-5 agent Johnny Worricker; but he does bring a pleasing, droll sensibility to it. Worricker, with the help of MI-5 bigwig buddy Benedict Baron (Michael Gambon, aka Dumbledore), stumbles across a piece of evidence that implicates the Prime Minister in something... unpleasant. It turns out that Worricker has a knack for speaking truth to power, pissing important people off, and getting along with pretty young brunettes (Rachel Weisz, Winona Ryder, Helena Bonham Carter, etc.). By the end of episode one, "Page Eight," he's public enemy number one and fleeing England. 

To be honest, the trilogy is kind of uneventful (especially for a show that BBC Two insists on describing as a "thriller"). But Worricker gets away with it because of its superb castand their top-notch acting. In fact, when I saw the mother load of famed British actors (I won't try to name them all!) in this series, I thought, "How did I miss this before?" I had a momentary case of FOMO—was everyone watching this without me?


I don't think so, at least not in the United States. (But please don't correct me if I'm wrong. I'm content to think it's a hidden gem that I discovered, thank you very much.) The truth is that the show doesn't seem very sexy, but here's the thing: That's what makes it such a relief to watch. I've recommended a lot of explosive, violent, action-packed shows on here, but this one is set amid modern-day espionage and the fight in the War Against Terror without the graphic violence or the adrenaline jolt. It manages tosacrifice action without sacrificing quality and intrigue, which is a rare balance for this type of story. 


Oh, and I can't forget my very favorite part of The Worricker Trilogy: the indulgent jazz theme that opens and closes each episode, *satisfied sigh.* It gives the series a subtle, yet undeniably noir-ish quality that feels just right. 

Happy Streaming! Grace


Wait a minute.... Political exile doesn't seem so bad!

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© 2019 by Liz Crowley Webber