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Little Drummer Girl cast tell of ‘upset’ at relevance of Middle East conflict

The six-part series begins tonight on BBC 1.

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Michael Shannon stars in the new drama (Yui Mok/PA)

Michael Shannon stars in the new drama (Yui Mok/PA)

Michael Shannon stars in the new drama (Yui Mok/PA)

The stars of new TV spy thriller The Little Drummer Girl have told how it is “upsetting” that the series is still so relevant to the continued conflicts raging in the Middle East.

Michael Shannon and Alexander Skarsgard star in the series, based on the 35-year-old novel by John Le Carre.

They said the embattled region has not changed much since the book was written.

Shannon said it is “upsetting” that a story set in the 1970s is so politically relevant to the present day.

The Little Drummer Girl follows the story of an actress recruited by Israeli intelligence to be an agent after a series of bombings. English star Florence Pugh plays the lead role.

Skarsgard said: “We were talking this morning about how relevant it is and how acute the situation is and the conflict, that 35 years later it almost makes you feel despondent because it’s not like we’re moving in the right direction or even moving toward. We’re taking major, major steps back.”

The six-part series is set amid a turbulent Middle East, with the Arab-Israeli conflict in full swing.

Oscar-nominated Shannon said he was left upset by the parallels between the past and present in the region.

He said: “It is upsetting that these conflicts can’t seem to be resolved, no matter how much effort people put into it.

“So many people have tried so hard. I’ve never really understood it, personally. I understand being upset about the history of your people and wanting to rectify what you believe to be the wrongs that you’ve suffered but the cost just doesn’t seem to be worth it really.

“But who am I to say? It’s not necessarily something I’ve had to deal with personally, so it’s easy for me to judge from outside. But being a part of this project certainly brought me closer to it and helped me understand just how complex it all is.”

The story follows the entanglement of Pugh’s character, Charlie, in a holiday romance which leads to a more sinister relationship with Israeli intelligence, as they hunt the perpetrator of a series of bombings.

Lady Macbeth star Pugh has said that her character is not necessarily likeable, and that this is turning point for female roles.

She said: “We are getting to a point now where it’s OK for women to not be loveable and maternal and wonderful to look at, or constantly being the kind caring person. And it’s quite cool to see someone who’s a little bit rough around the edges.”

The Little Drummer Girl begins on BBC1 at 9pm tonight.

PA Media