A year ago, Starz announced it had secured exclusive U.S. premium rights to, and will co-produce the 6-episode original miniseries “Close to the Enemy,” written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff.
A year later, the series will become available to USA audiences via Acorn TV – the British TV–focused streaming service arm of Robert Johnson’s RLJ Entertainment company; yes, Robert Johnson, founder and former CEO of BET.
The premiere of the 7-episode series is set for November 14, airing weekly; it will also air on BBC2 in the UK.
Set in a bomb-damaged London hotel during the aftermath of World War II, “Close to the Enemy” is a thriller that follows British intelligence officer Captain Callum Ferguson, whose last task for the Army is to ensure that a captured German scientist, Dieter, hands over secret cutting-edge military technology crucial to national security. Callum employs unorthodox methods in his attempt to convince Dieter to work for the British, developing a friendship with him, which is soon threatened as the German’s involvement in the Nazi war machine may be more than it initially seems.
Callum encounters a number of other characters whose stories all intertwine. These characters include, among others, Eva, a confident American jazz singer who breathes life into the bomb-damaged London hotel at the center of the series, with her music; Eva is played by Angela Bassett. She’s a member of an ensemble cast that’s led by Jim Sturgess, with Freddie Highmore, Charlotte Riley, Phoebe Fox, August Diehl, Robert Glenister, Alfie Allen, Charity Wakefield, with Lindsay Duncan, and Alfred Molina rounding out the starring cast.
On what attracted her to the series, Bassett said: “Because I love the BBC. It has a very rich history of doing incredible work. I’ve never had an opportunity to travel that way before… But then I weighed up the pros and cons, and saw there were so many pros. I realized what an amazing writer and director Stephen is. Sometimes it’s brilliant just to be in the company of someone that creative. You don’t get those opportunities every five years or even every lifetime! So you show up and you say, ‘Yes, please!'”
Basset goes on to describe her character Eva as follows: “She’s a courageous businesswoman who has had to leave America in the 1940s to escape racism… She moves to London to exercise her creative instincts and business acumen. She is the leader of the whole band of men. She brings life back to that once grand hotel from the bottom up… She invades the space of the buttoned up, stodgy people upstairs with her boldness, her brassiness, her beauty and her sensuality. They have never seen anyone like her before! She puts me in mind of Josephine Baker, who went to Europe, turned it on its head and generally enlivened the joint!”
A first trailer for “Close to the Enemy” has been released and is embedded below: