Spies of Warsaw
Sunday, 8.30pm, UKTV Sight unseen, this two-part British-made miniseries was on its way to our pick of the week spot. After all, it has a cast led by recent Doctor Who David Tennant and is based on the book The Spies of Warsaw by American writer Alan Furst, who has 10 or more atmospheric spy novels set in Europe during World War II to his name. But there’s just one wee problem, as the real Tennant would have said in his native Scottish lilt, were he not once again bunging on the English gentleman act he does so well: it’s just not very good. From the first scenes it is clear that, in line with lavishly restored period sets and cars, Spies of Warsaw is going to be a victory of style over substance. Doe-eyed women fawn over Tennant as he fences with an opponent. This is followed directly by long, lingering shots of the actor’s chestnut hair being engulfed by water in the shower. Eventually we surrender to a slow pan down his scrawny Scottish body. What is this, soft porn? Wet haired and clad in a towel, looking about as sexy and charismatic as a cat after a bath, Tennant as military attache Jean-Francois Mercier is only mildly surprised to find one of the women from the earlier scene beckoning with curled forefinger from his bed. Yes, I know Tennant once played Casanova, entirely convincingly. Here he looks like a schoolboy who wants to be James Bond when he grows up. There is a similar lack of tension and credibility as the plot thickens and Mercier finds himself caught up in abductions and betrayal in the salons and back alleys of wartime Warsaw.