Slow Horses’ Jack Lowden says ‘sexy’ TV shows help spy agencies get recruits

Slow Horses star Jack Lowden has said the intelligence services rely on the TV and film industry for recruitment as shows and movies make spies look “sexy”.

The 33-year-old Scottish actor, who stars in the Apple TV+ series about a dysfunctional team of MI5 agents, interacted with ex-spies for the show and said the industry is filled with people who complain about wanting “sexier assignments”.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, he said: “The few interactions we had with ex-spies, it was really wonderful to know that our intelligence services really are full of people bitching about wanting a corner office rather than a cubicle or why don’t they get sexier assignments.”

Slow Horses premiere – London
Jack Lowden arrives for the premiere of Slow Horses at Regent Street Cinema (Ian West/PA)

Discussing the moments he spent with ex-spies, he said: “My favourite thing that they revealed was their reliance on our industry for their recruitment.

“TV and film make spies sexy and that’s why people join.

“I’d love to speak to them now that Slow Horses is out there, making it look grubby and boring.”

Slow Horses is based on Mick Herron’s novel of the same name and it forms part of the Slough House series, which tells the story of a team of people who have been sent to an MI5 building for failing agents.

Lowden’s character, River Cartwright, works for Jackson Lamb, played by Gary Oldman, and he said the pair reminded him of Rodney and Del Boy from Only Fools And Horses.

“I’m 6ft 1ins and Gary’s shorter,” Lowden said.

“I’m horrendously aware of what we look like — before we even open our mouths, we’re next to each other in that sort of Rodney and Del Boy way. I find it very hard not to laugh,” he added.

He went on: “I was obsessed with Only Fools And Horses when I was a kid and no matter how much those two brothers went through, the writer John Sullivan always whipped the carpet out from underneath their feet.

“River is constantly feeling that he can change his situation and get back to the sexier side of the track. But each series ends with him back where he started.”

Speaking further on the show, he said: “It’s such a British brand of irreverent comedy developed over hundreds of years.

Mary Queen of Scots Scottish premiere – Edinburgh
James McArdle, Saoirse Ronan, and Jack Lowden arriving at the Scottish premiere of Mary Queen Of Scots (Jane Barlow/PA)

“That’s why I really hope there is a season where someone comes in from the CIA.

“I would love Lamb to be sitting in the corner eating a doner kebab while some American is doing something fancy on a whiteboard to do with drones. That is perfect Slow Horses.”

Discussing the show’s pick-up, he added: “The reviews have been fantastic, but it’s always difficult when it’s not on ‘normal television’.

“Being on a streaming service gives a show a chance to grow.”

Lowden is also known for his role as Henry Darnley in 2018 film Mary Queen Of Scots and Collins in 2017 Christopher Nolan-directed film Dunkirk.

His TV credits include mini series Wolf Hall (2015), War And Peace (2016) and Sir Steve McQueen’s Small Axe (2020).