“This is premium global programming delving into the paranoia of the spy world”


Distributor A+E Networks International
Producers Alaska TV; Rookery Pictures
Length 8 x 60 minutes
Broadcaster History (UK)

Actor Damian Lewis is turning his talents to factual in Damian Lewis: Spy Wars. The Billions star has signed on to produce and front the eight-part docu-drama series set in the world of espionage.

British producer Alaska TV is attached to co-produce the series with Lewis’ new firm Rookery Pictures, with first-run rights going to A+E Networks UK-owned pay-TV channel History. A+E Networks International is co-funder and has sales rights.

Alaska has a reputation for bringing talent to new precincts, having previously made Britain’s Coastal Railways With Julie Walters for Channel 4 and Donovan & The Beatles In India for Sky Arts.

Chris Fouracre, Ian Lamarra and Paul Sommers are executive producers for Alaska alongside Lewis and his brother Gareth Lewis, who directed 2007 feature film The Baker.

Former Miramax exec Richard Tulk-Hart was hired as managing director of international content sales and co-productions at A+E Networks International in 2017 to lead a push into co-created shows, and this series is the first factual fruit of that strategy. Crime drama Miss Scarlet And The Duke is also on the slate.

“The general sense from us is one of excitement,” says Tulk-Hart. “A+E is known for this space, but it is the first co-production with [UK vice-president of programming] Dan Korn’s team, and this delivers on our international and UK requirements.

“It’s possible to move away from the stories when you have a big name, but Damian delivers on both sides so well. This is premium global programming delving into the paranoia of the spy world.

“What makes this unique is we have gained unprecedented access to these public stories that people know through films such as Argo and are able to contextualise them in a different way.”

Lewis shot on location in London, Israel and Moscow for the series, speaking to former spooks from Mossad, the CIA, the KGB and MI6.

Spy Wars covers stories from the past 40 years, from the Cold War through to the War on Terror, revealing major operations that have had profound personal and geopolitical consequences.

Tulk-Hart says the scale and highly stylised reconstruction sequences push the series’ ambition into the premium sphere. “To that end, we can treat the distribution a lot like a scripted show,” he adds.