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Film / Page Eight

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A 2011 British Conspiracy Thriller that aired on BBC Two, written and directed by David Hare. It is the first instalment of three television films that make up The Worricker Trilogy.

It stars Bill Nighy as Johnny Worricker, a veteran MI-5 intelligence analyst, and Michael Gambon as Sir Benedict Baron; the Director-General of MI-5 and Johnny's closest friend. When information is received that suggests the British Prime Minister had knowledge of secret overseas prisons he didn't share with the intelligence community, Worricker must decide between his personal beliefs and allegience to his country. At the same time, he becomes acquainted with his Syrian-born neighbour (played by Rachel Weisz), who has a dark past and he fears may be exploiting his connections.

The film was followed by two sequels released in 2014: Turks & Caicos and Salting the Battlefield.

This show contains examples of:

  • Blackmail: Johnny threatens to reveal that the Prime Minister used Jill Tankard to set up an unofficial intelligence agency to receive and act on American intelligence obtained at black sites and not communicated to the UK's official security services, hiring Tankard's son in the process, creating a conflict of interest, unless she and the PM agree to kill reorganization of the security services into a UK Department of Homeland Security and for Jill specifically leak the Israeli Shabak report on the death of Nancy's brother Jake to the BBC.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: After Johnny sells one of his paintings to acquire travelling cash for when he goes on the run, he carries around £60,000 in a Waitrose shopping bag.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Although Nancy was born in Syria, she is white and British. Her father was a scholar specialising in Arab culture, so both her parents were living in Damascus when she was born.
  • The Casanova: Johnny has a long list of ex-girlfriends, most of whom he has parted with on good terms. This later proves useful, as he is able to get dirt on Jill Tankard from one, who works as her assistant, and sell a painting for cash to another, who owns an art gallery. He and Nancy even end up sharing a kiss before he leaves the country.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Ralph Wilson, the man Nancy brings home after a night out turns out to be a private investigator spying on Johnny. To make things even more complicated, he is also Jill Tankard's son.
  • The Collector: Johnny's flat is filled with expensive paintings. He later sells one for £60,000 to obtain travelling cash when he has to leave the country.
  • Corrupt Politician: Prime Minister Alec Beasley. He has been going behind the intelligence communities back with knowledge about CIA black sites, and plans to reshuffle the intelligence agencies into one resembling the US Department of Homeland Security.
  • Classified Information: The report that implicates Beasley, which Johnny initially takes out of Thames House and later goes on the run with, but ultimately disposes of in an airport trash can after getting what he wants.
  • Deconstruction: Johnny Worwicker is a deconstruction of the James Bond-style gentleman spy. He's suave and cultured, but has aged out of field work and is now stuck behind a desk. He can charm women effortlessly, but this has left him with a string of exes and a lonely personal life as he approaches retirement. He gets caught up in a conspiracy and is accompanied by the attractive Nancy, but the age difference is so great that their relationship is a detached paternal one rather than romantic. And finally, he uses the skills he's gained through a decades-long career to unravel a nefarious plot, but it's not one with doomsday-level ramifications. Rather, he's trying to save MI-5's pensions from government cutbacks.
  • Disappeared Dad: Johnny left his ex-wife whilst she was pregnant with their daughter, although he does have a fairly good relationship with her now she is an adult.
  • Eagleland Osmosis: Unhappy with how the intelligence services are run, the Prime Minister plans to reorganise them into an agency similar to the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Home Secretary Anthea Catheside, who was in support of making the report public, has her silence bought by the PM by being promoted to Deputy Prime Minister.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Johnny Worricker is not only charming and well mannered, but he is also a very skilled intelligence analyst.
  • Ice Queen: Anthea Catcheside, the Home Secretary and later Deputy Prime Minister.
  • Last Request: Benedict had already suffered from one heart attack, and Johnny noticed he was struggling at work, leading him to suspect he knew he was dying, and wanted his last main action as Director-General to be making the report public which ultimately doesn't happen when Johnny uses the report to force the PM to end his plans to reorganize the UK's security services.
  • Love Triangle: Baron (Johnny's best friend) is married to Emma, Johnny's ex-wife.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Sir Benedict Baron, the Director-General of MI 5, who intends to inform the public about the PM's knowledge of the black sites. Unfortunately he dies of a heart attack before the report can be made public.
  • Reluctant Retiree: Rollo is technically retired from MI 5 and now works for the Financial Times. However, he still provides Johnny with intel and assistance on the side, and it is implied he misses working for the intelligence community.
  • Run for the Border: Johnny is forced to flee the country due to the fallout as a result of his actions.
  • Straight Gay: Rollo Maverley, who aside from making a single flirtatious comment to a waiter, displays no stereotypical gay mannerisms.
  • Spy Versus Spy: Johnny ends up butting heads with fellow MI 5 officer Jill Tankard, but they eventually end up reaching an agreement after he blackmails her.
  • Title Drop: 'Page Eight' refers to the page of a report which claims the PM had knowledge of black sites that he didn't share with the intelligence community, which could have potentially risked British lives.