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Spies of Warsaw: starring David Tennant

Spies of Warsaw is arguably Furst's most well-known novel. Spanning the decade from 1933 to 1943, Furst's stories are portraits of subjugated peoples who try to resist the suffocating inevitability of Hitler's regime.

The characters roam the foggy nights and steal across the rainy, cobbled streets of Prague, Berlin, Warsaw, Rome, and Paris. Furst's protagonists join the ranks of the Resistance in one way or another. They include faded nobility, b-movie filmmakers, newspapermen, ship's captains and compromised businessmen as well as waiters, shopkeepers, jaded intellectuals, tarnished grand dames, and boozy British secret agents. Together they march in the underground army that seeks to fight back against the Nazi occupiers.

The two 90-minute episodes were filmed on location in Poland.

Richard Fell, Executive Producer and Head of Drama, Fresh Pictures, commented on the cast:  "We are thrilled and delighted that David and Janet are going to be in Spies of Warsaw. They are both actors of such great range and quality they will light up the screen as the star crossed lovers Jean Francois and Anna."

Episode 1

It is 1937, and Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier (David Tennant), a highly decorated soldier from the First World War, is the military attaché stationed in Warsaw, Poland while the shadow of Hitler's Nazi regime looms over mainland Europe.

Mercier is grossly suspicious of the German military's intentions, but he must juggle his formal duties at stifling diplomatic functions with the often death-defying realities of espionage.

With intelligence from his German informant Edvard Uhl, Mercier sets out on a stealth mission with his trusted accomplice Marek, where they discover that the Nazis are ensuring any future invasion of Poland can take place effectively and with little resistance. Mercier almost gets caught and killed during the mission, narrowly escaping, and thereby facing the wrath of French bureaucrat Jourdain, who is anxious to avoid the further heightening of diplomatic tension.

Amid the threat of a second world war, Mercier is also vying for the affections of Parisian lawyer Anna Skarbek (Janet Montgomery, currently in an empty-shell relationship with Russian Émigré and political journalist Maxim. As Mercier and Anna’s relationship develops, it is clear that she must choose between both men. But will Mercier's feelings for Anna jeopardise his mission and can she be trusted?

Episode 2

Mercier's mission becomes all too dangerous as his cover is compromised while trying to unearth German military plans, and a man believed dead reappears, sparking significant repercussions for both Mercier and Anna. Will Mercier discover the truth in time and what consequences will this have on the rest of Europe?

Led by intelligence from Dr Lapp, Mercier travels to Czechoslovakia to find and question the illusive "Seagull", a German activist who is on the run from the Nazis.

Finding Seagull reluctant to become involved with the French, Mercier soon takes matters with into his own hands and persuades him to travel to Berlin under false identities. There, with Seagull's help, Mercier hopes to employ a man who could prove to be a powerful ally against the Nazi regime.

As Mercier's superiors become increasingly frustrated with his lack of protocol and risk-taking, they begin to question the intelligence he has gathered, when finally, Mercier finds himself in opposition to his own government. Frustrated with work and longing for the beautiful Anna, he returns to Paris and the support of his younger sister Gabrielle (Tuppence Middleton), eventually seeking solace at the old family estate and his father's well-stocked wine cellar.

Now the threat of war becomes all too real as tensions rise across Europe and Mercier has to make difficult decisions.

  • David Tennant first hinted at his involvement in this project during an appearance on the Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1 on 21st March 2012. He claimed at this time that is was “89% confirmed”.

  • Spies Of Warsaw will be shot on location in Poland, in locations including Warsaw and Krakow. The old city of Warsaw also stood in for the pre-war Berlin, Paris and Prague.

  • Filming began on April 11th 2012

  • Read-throughs for the production took place at the Swiss Church in London’s Covent Garden, week commencing 26th March 2012

  • David Tennant was required to have fencing lessons to prepare for some of his scenes

  • There were 43 shooting days for the production between April and June 2012

  • The shoot wrapped in the first week of June 2012

  • David Tennant isn't, by his own admission, an accomplished horseman. He doesn't feel confident doing anything beyond walking and is actually allergic to the animals. However, at the Lords Of Time convention in September 2012 he urged viewers to watch how far he'd come on with his riding as he felt quite proud of how those scenes had gone!

  • Marcin Dorocinski (Pakulski) has also commented that the horseriding scenes were the hardest for him

  • Miroslaw Zbrojewicz (Marek) however remarked that the biggest challenge for him was driving an old car without his glasses

  • For Polish TV the voices of David Tennant and Janet Montgomery are redubbed by Andrzej Chyra and Anna Dereszowska


BBC Four - Spies of Warsaw

BBC America - Spies of Warsaw


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