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Close to the Enemy (BBC-1 2016, Jim Sturgess, Freddie Highmore)



In Stephen Poliakoff’s Close To The Enemy the second world war has finally come to a close and intelligence officer Captain Callum Ferguson is soon to be demobbed. First though he has to make sure that a German scientist Dieter Koehler, captured by the British, is put to work on the RAF jet engine development programme.

As the story develops Callum meets other characters all of whom have stories that end up intertwining not least Foreign Office bod Harold, American girl Rachel, Kathy who works for the War Crimes Unit and Callum’s younger brother Victor.

Producer Helen Flint, who has worked with Poliakoff for many years explained that he piece is set after the five endless and brutal years of the Second World War. The aftermath of the bombing of London is still very evident. Light drenched the city as the sun filled the void where buildings used to stand, and children play in the left over bombsite.”

The majority of the filming was actually done in Liverpool, Flint explains why: “We filmed in Liverpool as we had access to an old bank in the centre of the city. The building size allowed us enough room to convert it into a hotel. Being able to base in one building brought us practical and therefore creative time which is everything as budgets reduce year on year. Nowadays, in London we don’t have empty buildings that we can use easily for sets, so as an industry we are constantly searching for places to film outside the capital. Liverpool is a compact and accessible city and therefore outside of our hotel sets, moving locations during the day was refreshingly achievable”.

Because he is so well regarded Poliakoff is always able to attract fabulous casts to his work and Close to the Enemy is no exception. Charlotte Riley, who plays Rachel in the series, made it plain saying “The scripts were fantastic, but the biggest draw of all was working with Stephen. Ever since Gideon’s Daughter, I’d always wanted to work with him. It’s been a dream of mine. I’d watch his films and think, “I’d love to be in that.” I have friends who have worked with him, and they have all had a great time.” This was something echoed by Poliakoff favourite Lindsay Duncan who said “he is one of those writers you always go to. I feel so lucky that over the years I’ve done a few of his projects. I love having a long-standing relationship with a writer, and Stephen is definitely one of those. He is unique, as all good writers are. He has a very particular world and a very particular voice. I just love working with him.”

production details
UK / BBC Two – Little Island Productions – Endor Productions /7×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 2016

Writer and Director: Stephen Poliakoff / Costume Design: Nic Ede / Music: Adrian Johnston / Production Design: Rob Harris / Executive Producers: Helen Flint, Hilary Bevan Jones

Jim Sturgess as Callum Ferguson
Freddie Highmore as Victor Ferguson
Lucy Ward as Lotte Koehler
August Diehl as Dieter Koehler
Charlotte Riley as Rachel Lombard
Phoebe Fox as Kathy Griffiths
Sebastian Armesto as Alex Lombard
Robert Glenister as Brigadier Wainwright
Julian Bleach as Geoffrey Salter
Alfie Allen as Ringwood
Charity Wakefield as Julia
Ciara Charteris as Lucy Lindsay-Jones
Alfred Molina as Harold Lindsay-Jones
Lindsay Duncan as Frau Bellinghausen
Duncan Wisbey as Leonard
Angela Bassett as Eva
Carly Bawden as Ruth
Emma Fielding as Miss Clarkson
Sai Bennett as Anna
Simon Shackleton as Doctor
Aleksandar Jovanavic as Horst Kleinow
Antje Traue as Bergit Mentz
Vinette Robinson as Rita