Tom Hughes: 'Joe has an uncanny ability to tell when people are lying in The Game'

Tom Hughes plays a British spy with a dark secret in BBC2’s new six-part Cold War drama The Game (Thursday, April 30).

Set in the 1970s, Joe and his colleagues must foil a Soviet plot which threatens to destroy Britain…

What can you tell us about the character of Joe Lambe? 

" He’s a honeytrapper, which means he sleeps with women for information. We meet him a year after a big event in his life where he fell madly in love with a girl called Yulia, who acts as an informer for him at the Russian Embassy. "  

What happens to Yulia?

" Joe is so in love with her that at the start of the first episode he offers to betray his country and work for the KGB, just so he can be with her. But the KGB kill her and one year on Joe’s back at MI5 and a broken man. "

What are his special skills that led to him being brought in to this group recruited by the Head of MI5, known as Daddy, who’s played by Brian Cox? 

"J oe’s good at reading people and is able to shift his emotional state. He’s a man that’s never been comfortable in his own skin from a young age and has a lot of dark within him, so he’s learnt to manage his own emotions. Because of that Joe has an uncanny ability to tell when people are lying! "

How does Joe get on with Daddy?

"They have a lot of history and Daddy took him under his wing some years back and made him his protégé, although some may say they’re too close!"

The sets look amazing, you really are transported back to the 1970s!

" It’s everything. I’m not a big watcher of TV and films, but I have caught Mad Men over people’s shoulders before and that has such an attention to detail, period detail, so you’re immediately transported to that time. "

Does that help you get into the role?

"I t’s amazing when you walk on to such a well-dressed set. I just have to put my suit on, my sideburns; I smoke a cigarette and I’m in that moment. Plus, some of the vintage cars we get to drive around are fantastic. "

If you could have one of Joe’s attributes what would it be? 

" His shoes, he’s got amazing Chelsea boots! But really that’s a hard question as Joe is quite a messed up character. I’d like to be his mate as I think he’s a decent bloke, but there is a lot of darkness there and I don’t think I’d like that in my life. "

Do you think you’d make a good spy in real life?

"I don’t think so, but I have got pretty good at stalking people, putting my collar up and hiding in the shadows, hiding behind my fringe!"

Sean Marland

Sean is a Senior Feature writer for TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week, who also writes for He's been covering the world of TV for over 15 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are I'm Alan Partridge, The Wire, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.