Tuesday, 10 November 2015

London Spy: When Danny Met Alex

A Daily Mail review of a new spy thriller series has been widely criticised for obsessing over the sexuality of the lead characters.

London Spy, a new BBC2 series, is described by the corporation as follows: 'A romance between an MI6 code genius and an ordinary man promises happiness. But tragedy strikes when the spy dies in suspicious circumstances, forcing his lover to pursue the truth behind his death.'

Daily Mail TV critic Christopher Stevens opened his review, on a rather different tack: 'Believe it or not, BBC execs reckon there is not enough gay drama on the Beeb. You might think that it's become impossible to switch the telly on without seeing two men locked in a naked clinch, or in drag, or snogging.'

He continued:  'The story wasn't merely gay: it was as exclusively all-male as an old-fashioned gentlemen's club. Ben Whishaw (Q in the Bond movies) played Danny, a lost soul desperate for love who spent every spare hour doing drugs in nightclubs. We were left in no doubt about his sexuality from the start, because he was dancing down the street to Donna Summer's I Feel Love.'

One sentence in particular, read:  'Then they got down to being gay, which involved smouldering in profile, lying around with their shirts off in sepia light, having baths and mumbling a lot.'

The review has been roundly criticised for the reviewer's perceived obsession with the sexuality of the characters, otherwise widely regarded as only a small facet of the plot.

The top-rated comments on the article at the time of writing, read:  'It's not a gay spy drama. It's a spy drama and some of the characters happen to be gay.'


Though the Mail did give it just one star - mainly it seems as if merely having gay characters was an example of the BBC's POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD - this piece seems like a bit of an over-reaction to an over-reaction, cos the journo wants to show he's TOTES DOWN WITH THE GAYS, thus it's textbook i100.

And anyone who can write this line after watching last night's episode is clearly an idiot; 'The review has been roundly criticised for the reviewer's perceived obsession with the sexuality of the characters, otherwise widely regarded as only a small facet of the plot.'

Everyone else seemed to like it, 'bare bottoms' and all, bar the Telegraph who gave it a measly two stars; 'a plodding old carthorse lacking intrigue, charm or plausibility.' 

Their review also noted; 'This was a first script by the novelist Tom Rob Smith (Child 44) who, it says here, lives with Ben Stephenson, until recently the controller of drama commissioning at the BBC. I spy with my little eye. Something beginning with Q. (Quota.)'

Fagburn thought it was okay, if a little ponderous, and with many gaping holes; Danny's unbelievable opening line 'are you out?, the first eight months of their relationship passing in a second, then we have 11 days vanishing after Alex goes missing, how and why was Danny sent those keys, and how and why did Alex keep his secret life (and sex dungeon) secret, and what and why was Danny taking from his flat?

I was somewhat surprised to not have it revealed that ice-cold Alex was some sort of replicant, and boy-on-boy, they better have some epic plot twists to spin this out for another four hours.


  1. I finally got around to watching the first episode and I agree with what you say. You didn't really see or learn very much about anything over an entire hour, which I assume was a conscious choice and they'll fill in the gaps as it goes on, but you just don't get much of a sense of any of the characters, their lives, any deep sense of their relationships with each other and their, like, you know, social milieu, man.

    That thing about the gayness being incidental really is hilair. For a spy drama, I thought it was impressive how much of that first episode wasn't about plot but about the emotional states and like connections and stuff between the three main gay characters. It was all about their emotions as gay men.

    I'm looking forward to the second episode...

  2. from the first meeting though weren't you just wondering when someone gets into the gym bag?