Every scene in this series has a finesse of quality or invention. Full of lovely comedy and espionage antics, it gives stars like Kristin Scott Thomas plenty to relish
S pies never stop being spies, even when they’ve been out of the game for a while, and even when they know the game is up. Season two of Slow Horses (AppleTV+) starts with an old geezer standing behind the counter of a Soho sex shop, minding his own business – until he recognises a passerby and immediately sets off in pursuit, tailing the mystery man to a railway station, on to a train, then through the rain to catch a rail replacement bus bound for Oxford Parkway. On the bus, the sex shop proprietor begins to feel unwell, but before he drops dead, he types a single codeword into his phone and hides the device down the side of his seat. The man he was following gets away.
Much of what makes Slow Horses a tasty mis-shape of a drama can be found in that sequence, from the way it’s in bustling London one minute and an unglamorous provincial car park the next, to the fact that a bristly shambles of a man is the protagonist in an exciting chase. Star casting, too: the sex-shop guy, who is clearly a retired intelligence agent, has no lines and carks it before the opening credits, and yet he’s played by the great Phil Davis.