A Spy Among Friends: What is the release date and everything you need to know about the Damian Lewis spy drama

Coming first to ITVX, A Spy Among Friends is the true story of spy Nicholas Elliott and his colleague Kim Philby, who turns out to be a KGB double agent.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 10 November 2022 - 12.31pm

A Spy Among Friends is the highly anticipated new double agent drama which will launch on ITV’s new free streaming service ITVX.

Based on the New York Times best-selling book by Ben Macintyre and the true story of spies Nicholas Elliott and Kim Philby, this six-part series is a must-watch this Christmas.

A story of loyalty, trust and treachery, the real-life events covered in the series resulted in the gutting of British and American Intelligence at the height of the Cold War.

If you like espionage and spy dramas, you’re going to love A Spy Among Friends.

Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming series…

What is the A Spy Among Friends release date?

Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce in A Spy Among Friends ITVX

A Spy Among Friends is released on Friday, 8 December on ITVX.

The limited series will have six episodes, all available to stream on the day of release.

ITVX is the new free streaming service, replacing the ITV Hub.

It will air on ITV at a later date.

Is A Spy Among Friends a true story?

Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce in A Spy Among Friends ITV

Nicholas Elliot and Kim Philby were real spies and lifelong friends, but one of them was betraying the other all along.

Philby went on to become the most notorious British defector and Soviet double agent in history.

Born in 1912, Harold ‘Kim’ Philby was a British intelligence officer who achieved notoriety when he was exposed as a double agent for the Soviet Union. He was a member of the Cambridge Five spy ring, which divulged British secrets to the Russians during World War II and in the early years of the Cold War.

He attended Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge and worked as a journalist before joining the intelligence services and MI6. He served as the British liaison with American intelligence agencies and during his career passed large amounts of intelligence to the Soviet Union.

After being unmasked as a double agent in 1963, Philby defected to Moscow, where he lived until his death in 1988.

Previous TV shows and movies about Kim Philby

Guy Pearce as Kim Philby ITV
Guy Pearce as Kim Philby

The 2003 BBC Drama Cambridge Spies covered the lives of Philby and colleagues Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean and Anthony Blunt during the 1930s. Philby was played by Toby Stephens, alongside Tom Hollander, Rupert Penry-Jones and Samuel West as Burgess, Maclean and Blunt.

A Spy Among Friends has a fresh angle on the Philby story, focusing on his relationship with friend and fellow agent Nicholas Elliott.

Award-winning writer Alexander Cary, who has written the TV series, said: “It was a friendship that resulted in the gutting of British and American intelligence at the height of the Cold War and shaped the field of play for the dangerous game against Russia that we're still trying to win today.”

Is A Spy Among Friends based on a book?

Anna Maxwell Martin in A Spy Among Friends ITV

The six-part series is inspired by the popular Ben Macintyre book of the same name.

Ben Macintyre is a columnist and Associate Editor on The Times. He is the author of nine books including Agent Zigzag, the number 1 bestseller Operation Mincemeat and, most recently, Double Cross.

He is also the writer of SAS Rogue Heroes – the inspiration for the hit drama series currently showing on BBC One and iPlayer.

Writer Alexander Cary said: “Macintyre’s books about spies from recent history are relevant and exciting because they examine the larger universal themes of human behavior that drive individuals among us, and like us, to excel in the murky world of espionage and, for better or worse, leave a lasting impact on the world.”

Talking about A Spy Among Friends, the Daily Mail said: “No one writes about deceit and subterfuge so dramatically, authoritatively or perceptively. To read A Spy Among Friends is a bit like climbing aboard a runaway train in terms of speed and excitement - except that Macintyre knows exactly where he is going and is in total control of his material.”

A Spy Among Friends cast

Damian Lewis in A Spy Among Friends ITV

The series will star Golden Globe and Emmy winner Damian Lewis (Homeland, Billions) and Emmy winner Guy Pearce (Jack Irish, Mare of Easttown). Lewis also worked on the series as an executive producer.

"It’s an honour to be a part of this thrilling project,” said Pearce.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the intriguing MI6 history and getting to go on this journey with Damian makes it all the more brilliant. I’m also very happy to be working again with the wonderful and talented Nick Murphy."

BAFTA-winner Nick Murphy (Save Me) directs the series.

Adrian Edmondson in A Spy Among Friends ITV
  • Damian Lewis - Plays Nicholas Elliott
  • Guy Pearce - Plays Kim Philby
  • Anna Maxwell Martin (Motherland, Line of Duty) - Plays Lily Thomas
  • Stephen Kunken (Billions, The Handmaids Tale) - Plays James Jesus Angleton
  • Adrian Edmondson (The Pact) - Plays Sir Roger Hollis
  • Anastasia Hille (Baptiste) - Plays Flora Solomon
  • Lucy Akhurst - Plays Elizabeth Elliott
  • Gershwyn Eustache Jnr - Plays Robert Thomas

A Spy Among Friends is released on Thursday, 8 December on ITVX.

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