Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Spies of Warsaw on DVD

Spies of Warsaw DVD
DVD: ★★★½ 

David Tennant reveals another side of his versatility in this 1930s-set thriller when he turns dashing French spy in pre-war Poland. This BBC4 production was shown in January but is now already available on DVD.

It's a beautifully produced drama with an unusual wartime setting, focusing on a French cultural attaché, Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier, who is based in Warsaw. To the diplomatic community, Mercier appears to be the slightly bored military hero, having to attend evening balls in full dress uniform and other dull functions.

David Tennant and Jane Montgomery
But there's more to the colonel than that, as he develops a network of double agents, scouts the border with Germany and comes to a conclusion that is unpalatable to his political masters – that Germany is planning to invade Poland (and threaten France).

Jane Montgomery stars as Anna Skarbek, with whom Mercier becomes entangled in a tricky, dangerous, romance.

Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais
Spies of Warsaw was written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, who are better known for their comedies (The Likely Lads, Porridge) but who became fascinated with this story, which is based on Alan Furst's novel.

Warsaw had to be rebuilt brick by brick following the Second World War, and this series was filmed there. It makes an atmospheric setting for what is something of an old-fashioned, but still engrossing, wartime thriller.

There are no extras on this DVD, which is a shame. However, the Beeb's online media centre has a media pack about the drama here.

• Also just being released are series 1 and 2 of The Hour, the 1950s drama set in the early days of TV news, with a fine cast, including Dominic West, Romola Garai, Ben Wishaw and Peter Capaldi.

Both DVDs are available from BBCShop.com