Close to the Enemy's Jim Sturgess: 'All the characters are on high alert'

Jim Sturgess in Close To The Enemy
(Image credit: BBC/Little Island Pictures)

Jim Sturgess reveals all about Stephen Poliakoff's post-war drama Close to the Enemy, which starts on BBC2 on November 10

A post-war hotel in London is at the heart of award-winning writer and director Stephen Poliakoff’s new BBC2 drama Close to the Enemy. Cloud Atlas and One Day star Jim Sturgess, who is currently starring in AMC drama "Feed the Beast", takes centre stage as intelligence officer Captain Callum Ferguson, who has to move into the hotel to look after German jet engineer Dieter Koehler (August Diehl) and convince him to work with the British rather than the Americans or Russians. Jim tells TV & Satellite Week what’s in store…

How would you describe Callum? “All the characters are coming out from the rubble of the war and are on high alert because the next war is hanging in the air. Callum has been given the job to turn Dieter because he knows how to play people but he’s also a big risk-taker, which sometimes gets him in deep mess and sometimes works for him. He seems in control and is spinning all these plates but he has deep, dark scars from the war and he also has a troubled brother [Freddie Highmore], so all of that is bubbling underneath.”

What is his relationship like with Dieter? “It is so cleverly titled Close to the Enemy, as it is about what makes an enemy… Callum and Dieter are actually kindred spirits who share a passion for engineering so there is huge respect between them and Callum’s idea of what needs to be done for the greater good starts to change.”

What does it add setting Close to the Enemy in a hotel? “All of these people, who might not speak to each other on the street, are suddenly all living together and it really allows mystery to develop in these empty corridors that they are wandering around.”

We see a lot of the jazz scenes in Close to the Enemy through Angela Bassett’s character Eva, whose band plays in the basement, did you enjoy that? “Yes, We show the secret service and the world of espionage but Stephen has also brilliantly brought in a lot of the joy and excitement that was part of the underground arts scene at the time. Disaster and destruction always bring creativity and we see the swing and jazz movement that was emerging in Britain. All this colour is literally coming out from under the floor in this hotel.”

Music is huge part of your life, too, and we see Callum playing the piano, was that fun? “I do play a lot of music and I have a studio at home. Yes, Callum is a better piano player that I am so I had to learn these pieces that he plays in the film which was fun but hard work. I stayed in a hotel in Liverpool during filming and they got me a piano in my room much like Callum has in his room. It is life imitating art in this wonderful way.”

Close to the Enemy starts on BBC2, Thursday, November 10, 9.00pm

Caren Clark

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.

Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.

Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.

In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.