01x02 - Strangers

Danny: This is Alex.

Policewoman: Your partner?

Danny: Yeah. He's a genius. He went to university at the age of 15.

Alex: The people I work with... are inscrutable.

Danny: Alex?

Policewoman: What kind of relationship did you have with him? Did it involve sadism?

Danny: No.

( He gasps )

Alex: I could never hurt Danny... because he is the only friend I have.

Policewoman: This man is called Alistair, his parents are alive. Is it possible you enjoyed extreme sexual encounters with someone who didn't want you to know their name?

Scottie: He worked for MI6. He was a spy. The police were concerned you might have taken something from the crime scene - a personal item, something of sentimental value. You wouldn't have done that, would you?

Danny: Of course not.

Scottie: No, of course not.

Radio: ♪ ..All the love you can ♪
♪ Stand by ♪
♪ Your man ♪
♪ Stand by your man ♪
♪ And tell the world you love him ♪
♪ Keep giving all the love you can ♪
♪ Stand by your man. ♪

( He pants )

( He sighs )

( He sobs )

Danny: Your newspaper has... reported a series of lies. It's not the truth. You need to tell them the truth. You need to listen to me! I'm here today... to tell you the truth. I'm here today to tell you the truth. I'm here today to tell you the truth. I'm here today to tell you the truth. You f*ck! ( He sobs ) I'm here today to tell you the TRUTH!

London Spy
Episode 2
Original air date: November 16, 2015

Journalist: In your phone call you asked how it all works. We took that as negotiating payment.

Danny: Oh, no. Erm... I have never spoken to a journalist before. I don't want money. I'm here to tell you the truth.

Journalist: You used the word "partners" to describe your relationship.

Danny: Yeah, we were partners.

Journalist: What do you mean by that?

Danny: Erm, I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.

Journalist: You'd been together eight months?

Danny: Yeah.

Journalist: During those eight months, how many times had you visited the attic?

Danny: I'd never visited the attic. Apart from when I discovered... That was the only time, that was the first time.

Journalist: But you must have known about it?

Danny: No.

Journalist: The activities that went on up there?

Danny: Well, that's what I'm trying to tell you - I don't think anything did go on up there. Erm, I never saw him use those items, I never heard him talk about those things.

Journalist: You were his sexual partner for eight months. He never mentioned sadism? Never asked you to participate? Never discussed his predilections? You know nothing?

Danny: Why won't you ask me what I think happened to him?

Journalist: What do you think happened to him?

Danny: He was murdered.

Journalist: Who murdered him?

Danny: I don't know.

Journalist: Why did they murder him?

Journalist 2: Not here.

Journalist 2: You don't use his name. Is it true you didn't even know it? Did he ever tell you he was in danger?

Danny: No.

Journalist 2: OK, I get it. He's a spy, he needed to be careful. You met by chance. First day, he lied. But eight months later you want to spend the rest of your lives together and you're still using the wrong name to say how much you love him?

Danny: He told me his name was Alex.

Journalist 2: People lie, Danny. And they lie well.

Danny: Guys who own rooms like that attic... when it comes to s*x, they know what they want, how they want it. The s*x...is professional. And he didn't know what he enjoyed. He'd never found out.

Danny: Do you believe me?

Journalist 2: It doesn't matter what I believe. But, yes... I do.

Scottie: Journalists make difficult bedfellows. You can't just tell them what to print. You didn't want to discuss it with me first?

Danny: I knew you'd try and talk me out of it. Make me think what a dumb idea it was.

Scottie: What is this? Mistrust? It is. I see. You trusted me with your life, but not now, not with this!

Danny: My life is small, this is... organisations, institutions.

Scottie: You see me as one of them, don't you? The suit, the education, the job - I'm part of the Establishment.

Danny: Well, aren't you?

Scottie: How dare you, young man! How dare you presume to know me. I know you because I've heard every secret you have to tell. What do you know about me? Answer me.

Danny: I know...

Scottie: You know where I live. You know what films I like, you know what music I listen to. Did you know that I suffer from depression? Did you know that in the past I drank every night, every day, every morning - I drank until a stranger could smell it on me! Do you know just how f*cking far I am from being part of the Establishment?! How dare you mistrust me... when you don't know! You want to know who I am, who I really am... I'll show you.

Danny: Where we going?!

Scottie: Come on. Then you can decide whether you trust me or not.

( Birdsong )

( Dog barks in distance )

Scottie: This is the spot where my career as a spy came to an end. I was a spy... a long time ago. In a world very different to this one. I was recruited at Cambridge. I said yes partly because it wouldn't be a normal life, with regular hours. I was desperate to avoid the five o'clock home time... whilst not being bohemian enough to imagine life without a proper profession. Not very patriotic motives, I suppose. But they rather liked that about me, an utter lack of idealism. Romantics make unreliable spies. It was my third year with MI6. I was travelling back to London on the night train. A handsome man entered my carriage... sat opposite me. The tips of our shoes touched. Our eyes chanced. He asked the most mundane questions in the most exciting way. When we arrived at Paddington, I went to the gentlemen's and waited in a cubicle, door ajar, hoping. I can't tell you how happy I was to see him. It meant that I hadn't been wrong. And that for the next 15 minutes or so, I wouldn't be alone. After all these years, prudishness runs deep. The next day, I was approached by a Soviet operative... who described how the Soviet Union welcomed "men like me". "Under Communism we're all equals." And once I'd completed my mission here, in a country that would always hate my kind, I could set up home in Moscow and be free. Some "men like me" actually believed that lie but I was not one of them. So, all that remained was the blackmail. I'd be exposed... arrested... disgraced. So, that night, I bought a rope... and came here... but sitting on that branch, noose ready, I thought to myself, there is another way.

Danny: You told your bosses you were gay.

( Scottie chuckles )

Scottie: That's a wonderful wrong answer; the option did not exist. No, I explained to my section head that I'd been approached by a Soviet operative and I detailed the nature of the blackmail. He asked if the allegations were true. I admitted that I'd made a mistake with a man and that the operative probably had evidence of that mistake. But it was only once. An act of disgusting madness. "I'm not a homosexual! And I'm not a traitor! Hard for them to believe the second statement when they knew that the first was a lie. So, I proposed preposterously: they employ someone to follow me for the rest of my life - photograph my every move - I would never touch another man. I didn't discover until later that it hadn't been a Soviet operative, it had been an internal investigation. You've heard of a mole hunt? Well, this was a fag hunt, which they saw as more or less the same thing. Her Majesty's Secret Service had had its fingers burnt by one too many queer spies but my prompt confession, saved my life. I was moved from MI6 into what was then named Ministry for Transport, where I was little more than a pen-pusher, whispered about by those in the know. Out of gratitude and fear, I kept my end of the bargain. And for 11 years, I did not touch another man.

Scottie: Will you sleep? (Danny shakes his head) Then I propose we stay up all night and wait for the morning papers together.

( Birdsong )

Danny's Boss: (quietly) In my office.

Danny: Huh?

Danny: Drug-test me. I need this.

Sara: It's from his parents.

Danny: Mr and Mrs Turner.

( Engine starts )

Danny: Beautiful countryside round here.

Danny: How long have you lived here?

Mr. Turner: Didn't Alistair tell you?

Danny: No.

Mrs. Turner: What did he tell you about us? The truth... please.

Danny: He told me you were dead.

Mr. Turner: We weren't close.

Mrs. Turner: Bathroom's opposite. It's... It's all yours. Is one towel enough?

Danny: Plenty.

( Door closes )

Mr. Turner: We've already eaten. We won't stand here and watch.

( Door opens )

Mrs. Turner: How was dinner?

Danny: Fine. Alistair, tell me about him.

( Book closes )

Mrs. Turner: Will you be able to sleep?

Danny: Probably not. Alistair suffered from insomnia.

Mrs. Turner: Well, that's why he enjoyed running so much - to exhaust him. His mind was so busy, he ran so he could sleep.

Danny: Why can't you talk to me?

( Door opens )

( Knock at door, door opens )

Mr. Turner: Time to talk.

Danny: You read the article?

Mrs. Turner: We're not making any judgements.

Mr. Turner: You see the life we lead. We're private people, we don't want attention. The past is the past. What Alistair did in London was up to him. He was an adult. We can't bring him back. We'd just prefer it... if there was no fuss.

Mrs. Turner: We'd... both prefer it.

Danny: I won't talk to the press again.

Mr. Turner: That's good.

Danny: But nobody was saying it, so I had to. Your son was murdered.

Mr. Turner: After breakfast, why don't we go for a walk?

Danny: Your son was murdered.

Mr. Turner: My son is dead. My wife is sick.

Danny: I'm sorry.

Mr. Turner: Enough.

Danny: Enough?

Mr. Turner: We need to leave soon if we're to catch your train.

Danny: That... is not his bedroom. This is not his home.

Mr. Turner: Have you lost your mind?!

Danny: Who are you? Who are you?!

( Phone rings )

Woman (O.C. on phone): Bring him.

Danny: Who was that?

Mr. Turner: That was Alistair's mother.

Danny: His mother?! What does she want?

Mr. Turner: To meet you.

Danny: How far is it?

Mr. Turner: Not far.

( Engine starts )

Danny: Anything else you want to see?

Frances: Not everyone is comfortable inviting strangers to their home. We thought if you saw where we lived you might try to extort us.

Danny: Why do you think I would want your money?

Frances: Because you have none. You want an apology? I gave you an explanation.

Danny: You...I believe.

Frances: My husband's name is Charles. My name is Frances. My son's name was Alistair. Your name, Daniel, we read in the paper. My staff you met.

Danny: Where's she taking my stuff?

Frances: Well, surely you're going to spend the night?

( Crow caws )

Frances: We're in the midst of restoring the house to its former glory. We had hoped Alistair would finish the task.

Danny: This is his room.

Frances: How did you know?

Danny: Because it's the loneliest room I've ever been in.

Frances: Charles was sure you'd catch the train home today, none the wiser. I was convinced you'd figure it out. It seems you did so not with reason or deduction... but something akin to... female intuition.

Danny: I won't sleep in here.

Frances: I would never have allowed it.

Frances: Dinner is at eight.

Danny: You're embarrassed by his death.

Frances: Yes.

Danny: Upset, too?

Frances: Yes. More than you can imagine.

( Birdsong )

( Crow caws )

Frances: Did you realise your provocation was infantile before or after you came through that door? Before, I see. But you didn't decide to change?

Danny: Would you like me to?

Frances: No. I think I prefer you like that.

Danny: Thank you.

Frances: Alistair completed that maze unassisted, three months before his fifth birthday. Others considered him to be disturbed, but what they saw as a disturbance of the mind was, in fact, an exceptional gift. However, it's not enough in this world to be born brilliant - you need direction and discipline. You need someone who reminds you, day after day, never to waste your talent on triviality. How many brilliant minds are out there right now rotting in squalor and neglect? It took every ounce of my strength to make Alistair realise his potential. He ended up hating me for it. But you guessed that already.

Danny: Your son was murdered. The attic was staged. And everything you've read about his death is a lie.

Frances: After dinner, perhaps you will join me for a drink.

Frances: My son wasn't gay. Before you hold some sort of parade through the house, hear me out. Alistair...didn't think like ordinary people. He didn't feel what ordinary people feel. In his eyes, everyone was a puzzle. He took immense satisfaction figuring out what a person wanted and then giving it to them. As if we were all computers... waiting for the correct code. Alistair could be anything a person wanted him to be. In your case, it appears you craved romance, a good old-fashioned love story. He gave it to you. Meanwhile, he continued giving other kinds of stimulation to other kinds of people, men and women. If he was involved with someone who hankered after risk, he would have provided it. Danger, pain, submission, domination. Alistair was as precocious sexually as he was intellectually. To him, they were one and the same. s*x was just another form of decryption. You think I'm cruel? Perhaps I am. But not in this instance. I wanted to preserve your illusions. We had hoped that you would go home and mourn in the belief that your relationship was perfect. You loved him, I see that. However, I cannot allow you to be unaware of the facts, in case you blunder further into a situation you simply do not understand. I'm not surprised he used a different name - he was playing a part. The part of a conventional lover.

Danny: I haven't read many books. I haven't been to many...places. But I have f*cked a lot of people. And there's one thing... you just can't fake. Inexperience. The body's tense when it should be relaxed. It hurts when...it should be fun. And it's dirty when it should be clean. I don't care how smart you are, your muscles can't lie. I'm talking about feeling his inexperience as clearly as I can feel this glass. Do you follow me, Frances? I can see you do. So I know for a fact you're lying. I know for a fact that your son, the man I loved, was a virgin. What I don't understand is why you're so keen to convince me otherwise. When he told me you were dead, he wasn't lying, was he?

Frances: Amongst all the lies you've heard here this weekend, recognise one truth - "no fuss" is the best piece of advice you will ever be given.

Danny: I prefer it down here.

Nanny: She won't like it.

Danny: No. I don't think she will. You cared about him. You cared for him. If he had a problem, he came to you, didn't he? Not her. You loved him.

Nanny: ( sobs ) Alex.

Danny: Alex.

Nanny: He hated the name Alistair. ( She laughs )

Danny: What happened here?

Nanny: Get as far away from these people as you can. He insisted.

( Engine idles )

( Horn )

Alex: I want to tell you a story...about a man. While everyone was laughing... and drinking, he would just walk... until he reached the exact same spot, where he'd sit with his back to all those people. And while he did everything he possibly could to signal to the world that he wanted to be left alone... more than anything, he hoped that someone passing would understand that what he really wanted was the exact opposite. And that this someone would sit next to him... and strike up a conversation. I was that man... and you were that someone.

American: I have a sweet tooth. It's easier to quit smoking, I swear. Not very British, talking to strangers, is it? I've worked in your country for ten years now. Do you own a house?

Danny: No.

American: A car?

Danny: No, nothing.

American: Well, you have your health. That's the most precious asset of all.

Danny: My health?

American: Lots of people think they have nothing to lose, but in my professional experience, they just haven't thought it through.

Danny: Are you threatening me?

American: Threatening? My, oh, my! This is just a conversation, a chitchat. Two people passing in the night. I can see why you're so confused, over the years I've adopted quite a few of your country's customs, but that great British reserve escapes me. I enjoy talking too much. And, once in a while, someone unexpected tells you something... that might save your life. Be sure to put that card someplace safe.

( Danny knocks on door )

Scottie: You think my house is bugged?

Danny: I've just been threatened. They...heard us.

Scottie: Who?

Danny: The people who murdered Alex.

Scottie: All right... suppose he was murdered, suppose you're right. Follow it through, the implications of what you're saying. You know nothing about them, they will know everything about you. Every action you take will have been predicted, planned for - even coming here tonight. And if they don't kill you, it'll be for one reason - they consider you less of a nuisance alive than dead. If you're insulted by the idea of your insignificance, you shouldn't be, you should cherish it. No daring journalist is going to come to your aid, no rogue police officer. It's just you - you alone, Danny. Ask yourself, honestly, who are you? You're friends with everyone, you trust everyone, and you know no-one.

Danny: You know these people.

Scottie: I knew them 30 years ago.

Danny: Help me.

Scottie: One way or another, I've been afraid for much of my life, and it's a privilege to spend time with a man who's never afraid of anything. And that's not because you were born in a different time - you're fearless. I've always wondered how that must feel. But, Danny, occasionally, it's right to be afraid. Leave this alone. Promise me.

( Scratching )

♪ ..Your man ♪
♪ And show the world you love him ♪
♪ Keep giving all the love you can ♪
♪ Stand by your man. ♪

Ben Whishaw

Edward Holcroft

Kate Dickie

Michaela Coel

Jim Broadbent

Danny's Boss
Grant Stimpson

Zrinka Cvitesic

Mr Turner / Groundsman
David Hayman

Mrs Turner / Nanny
Lorraine Ashbourne

Charlotte Rampling

Nicolas Chagrin

The American
Clarke Peters

Jakob Verbruggen

Guy Heeley

Executive Producer
Tim Bevan

Executive Producer
Eric Fellner

Executive Producer
Juliette Howell

Executive Producer
Tom Rob Smith

Tom Rob Smith