Lift­ing veil on wartime se­cret

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

THE ex­ploits of the Bri­tish Se­cu­rity Co-or­di­na­tion was one of the best-kept se­crets of World War II . . . which is just how the Brits wanted it, given its mis­sion was to ma­nip­u­late the Amer­i­can me­dia to such a de­gree that the US felt com­pelled to join the war.

‘‘It’s an amaz­ing story and the Brits of course came close to sweep­ing it com­pletely un­der the car­pet – they’re very em­bar­rassed,’’ says Wil­liam Boyd, the ac­claimed UK author and screen­writer whose novel Rest­less fol­lows a young woman re­cruited into this clan­des­tine or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Boyd has adapted his best­selling book into a twopart minis­eries which is air­ing on pay-TV chan­nel 13th Street. Hay­ley Atwell plays Eva, who is re­cruited as a se­cret agent by spy­mas­ter Lu­cas Romer (Ru­fus Sewell) and dis­patched on mis­sions that blur the line be­tween pro­fes­sional and per­sonal.

stars Hay­ley Atwell and Ru­fus Sewell Are you happy with the way Rest­less came to the screen?

Hand on heart, I am de­lighted with it. I was heav­ily in­volved, not only in writ­ing the script but all the way through, and ev­ery­thing seemed to click – we had great ac­tors, great di­rec­tion, great pro­duc­tion val­ues. Does see­ing your char­ac­ters come to life on screen change your view of your work?

It’s very odd and I did keep a sep­a­ra­tion in my head. The book came first and will al­ways be there, and any film or TV ver­sion will al­ways be some kind of bonus. In­tel­lec­tu­ally, I’m in the right place for it. How did you come across the story of the Bri­tish Se­cu­rity Co-or­di­na­tion?

It was an amaz­ing stroke of luck. I was asked to write a film about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Win­ston Churchill and Franklin Roo­sevelt dur­ing World War II. In my re­search I kept com­ing across ref­er­ences to Churchill’s ‘‘dirty tricks’’. I came across this book, writ­ten by three for­mer Bri­tish Se­cu­rity Co-or­di­na­tion op­er­a­tives, that listed ev­ery­thing they did. It’s es­ti­mated there were be­tween 2000 and 3000 sub­agents work­ing for the cause in this mas­sive and highly suc­cess­ful at­tempt to ma­nip­u­late the me­dia of an­other coun­try. And, more ex­traor­di­nar­ily, a coun­try we wanted to be our ally. I wanted to write a spy novel and I thought: ‘‘Well, this is where it will take place, not in Ger­many or oc­cu­pied France, but in the United States and about what we were up to be­fore Pearl Har­bor’’.


Rest­less: Part 2: Satur­day, 8.30pm, Part 1 and Part 2 en­cores, var­i­ous times, 13th Street.


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