I’m really enjoying the new BBC cold war spy thriller, The Game. It has atmosphere in spades, a great ‘feel’ for the period, and some nicely bleak humour, as well as sharp writing that’s still keeping me guessing as to what’s going on and where all the major players’ loyalties lie. Is young Joe really as staunchly British as he seems, or was he turned by the Poles? Is the MI5 boss ‘Daddy’ quite the avuncular sweetie he appears? Is there a mole in the department, and if so, who? (Current favourite for that role in the Makovesky household is the young assistant Jenny, simply because she seems so damned unlikely, but we shall see.)
However, what’s also catching my eye is some of the settings. The series is supposedly set in 1970s London and producers are strangely coy about the filming locations, but if I’m not mistaken, it looks an awful lot like Birmingham. There’s the canal snaking off under a vast stilted motorway (Spaghetti Junction). There’s the flashback scene where young Joe devises a chalk graffiti code to alert his Polish colleague (surely Key Hill cemetery in the Jewellery Quarter). And unless my eyes totally deceive me, that looks like the ‘upturned ziggurat’ of Birmingham’s old library, cleverly spliced into a London skyline and masquerading as MI5’s headquarters.
I can’t wait for future episodes, to see if I’m right and if I can spot any more odd corners of Brum filling in for its more southerly counterpart. And to watch the rest of an excellent, intelligent series, of course.