These Brilliant John Lé Carre Adaptations Have Thrills, Kills, & Secrecy Galore

by Alice Broster
BBC/Ink Factory/The Little Drummer Girl Distribution Limited

On Oct. 28 BBC One will be launching its new primetime spy thriller. An adaptation of John Le Carré’s The Little Drummer Girl will air at 9 p.m. and I can hardly wait. The Radio Times reported that production first started in Feb 2018 and filming finished in Greece in June. If you are into thrillers and being kept on your toes then The Little Drummer Girl will be just your cup of tea. Like all of Le Carré’s novels, you will be left guessing until the very end. If that's your cup of tea, these five John Le Carré adaptations like The Little Drummer Girl will be right up your street.

The Little Drummer Girl will bring together some very well-known faces, as well as some up-and-coming stars in a six part mini-series. Florence Pugh, who has previously starred in the Anthony Hopkins TV film of King Lear as Cordelia, will take centre stage as Charlie. She plays an aspiring actress who is dragged into a world of spies, deceit, and danger as tensions in the Middle East rise. She just so happens to be dragged into said world by Becker, an Israeli intelligence officer and her holiday fling (played by Alexander Skarsgård). They will be joined by Oscar Nominated Hollywood legend Michael Shannon.

If the cast is anything to go by this is a series not to be missed. However, this is not the first adaptation of one of John Le Carré’s novels. Here are five other adaptations you have to see.


'The Night Manager'

When it was first announced in January 2018 that The Little Drummer Girl would be made into a BBC series, fans of Le Carré immediately speculated whether it would be as good as the adaptation of The Night Manager which was produced by the BBC and released in 2016. Putting Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Elizabeth Debicki, and Olivia Colman in the middle of Le Carré’s crime novel, the series follows the story of former solider Jonathon Pine who takes on a job as a hotel night porter and gets a little bit more than he bargained for. With rave reviews, you will absolutely be on the edge of your seat until the very end.

Watch on Amazon Prime now


'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'

If you love spy thrillers and haven’t seen Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy then you are seriously missing out. Released in 2011 and directed by Tomas Alfredson, it tells Le Carré’s story of Cold War veteran George Smiley (played by Gary Oldman). He is forced out of retirement in order to help MI6 uncover a soviet spy from within. Starring alongside Oldman is Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, and Benedict Cumberbatch. The movie is every bit as major as the cast list would suggest, and if you want to be kept guessing this is the movie for you.

Watch on Netflix now


'A Most Wanted Man'

Another A-List adaptation of one of Le Carré’s novels is A Almost Wanted Man, which came out in 2014. As an escaped Chechen militant arrives illegally in Germany to claim an inheritance, he triggers a series of events which will get him caught up in the world of espionage, murder, and the war on terror. This film brings together Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, and Grigoriy Dobrygin and is spine tinglingly good. Whilst it received mixed reviews when it first came out, I think it is a great adaptation of Le Carré’s original story.

Watch on Prime Video now


'The Constant Gardener'

The Constant Gardener could be perceived as a little different to most of John Le Carré’s spy novels. Whilst this isn’t a straight up story about espionage there is still a hell of a lot of mystery. Ralph Fiennes stars as a British Diplomat who relocates to Kenya with his wife (played by the brilliant Rachel Weisz). When she is found murdered it is down to him to get to the bottom of the case. Only, as ever with Le Carré stories, things aren’t as simple as they first seem and in seeking justice he also unearths a lot of other very uncomfortable truths. It has murder, corporate corruption, and there is no way you will be able to guess the ending. It is the perfect thriller.

Watch on Prime Video now


'The Spy Who Came In From The Cold'

If old films are more your cup of tea then The Spy Who Came In From The Cold might be one to watch. First shown on the big screen in 1965, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold is still regarded by many Le Carré fans as one of the best adaptations of his work. Releasing a film about the Cold War and espionage during the Cold War probably helped, but this film is a stripped back version of Le Carré’s story. Starring Richard Burton and Claire Bloom, this is an old school spy movie. While its age makes it a little cheesy, it is the perfect Sunday afternoon spy thriller.

Watch on Prime Video now

So there you have it. A whole plethora of John Le Carré adaptations to sink your teeth into in anticipation for The Little Drummer Girl. Each as thrilling as the next, Le Carré manages to keep you in suspense every time and I am hoping The Little Drummer Girl really lives up to expectations. It will be on BBC One on Oct. 28 at 9 p.m.