Quality serial drama narratives begin with excellent writing, followed by superb acting. Slow Horses has both and something else. The most amazing group of misfit anti-heroes ever featured on any size viewport. Slough house is the depository for MI5 failed/flawed/old goat agents. Most who end up in Slough House stay at Slough House. The MI5 proper upper-crust caste agents and superiors’ Schadenfreude at Slow Horse’s fate is the upstairs/downstairs British perennial caste system drama BBC4 addicts, like yours truly, savor the most. The conformist MI5 Agents delight at saying sloughs House, dragging out the vowels with elitist insouciance setting the tone. The audience is on the Slough House-slow horse’s side as the slow horse agents have only one way out, placing their proverbial noses on the grindstone. The best freaks in the business with the disheveled alcoholic worst/best old-school agent in charge with the wisdom behind his bloodshot eyes. Slow Horses is another first-rate example of the Show not Tell narrative form.

Slough’s first definition is: 1. Swamp and  

2. A situation characterized by a lack of progress or activity.

“the economic slough of the interwar years”

On the show, the Slough House offices are said to be located on Aldersgate street, an actual street in London. Another clue we get is the presence of the nearby Barbican Underground station, named Aldersgate Street tube station, initially.

Gary Oldman, playing Slough House Agent Chief Jackson Lamb, donned in loose-fitting suits purchased sometime during the end of the Cold War, is the backbone of “Slow Horses.” Lamb is the boss of the fictional Slough House, a shabby warren of offices to which agents of the British intelligence agency MI5 end up when or if they make a sufficiently embarrassing or costly mistake. There they carry out pointless proletariat work while enduring Lamb’s constant, finely wrought insults. The remaining cast members include Kristin Scott Thomas as Diana Taverner, Deputy Director-General of MI5, and head of operations codenamed “Second Desk.” She’s also a former colleague of Lamb. The secret meetings between Lamb and Taverner run like small theatrical comedy routines between two old colleagues who equally love and disdain one another.  Next up, my favorite character,  River Cartwright, is played very efficiently by actor Jack Lowden. The river opens up season 1 with a high foot chase, like Tom Cruise, through levels, conveyors, and tarmac at Heathrow Airport.  River epitomizes the younger version of competence Lamb may have exhibited. River also shares a very familiar surname (his grandfather is David Cartwright, a former MI5 agent with a mysterious history with Lamb) with Lamb and therefore receives most of his ire (known as Lamb respect). One can see River’s palpable frustration with his purgatory Slough House sentence, efforting through equal parts acumen/hard work a Second Desk return.

The organizing principle of Slough House falls squarely within Catherine Standish, played by actor Saskia Reeves, office admin and Lamb’s secretary. Throughout the series, she quietly inserts her natural gifts for cracking difficult cases with oft-overlooked intelligence.  Comic relief, often at his expense, is gifted to Min Harper, played by Dustin Demri Burns. Min finds himself at Slough House, the result of leaving a classified file on the train (whoops).  Min has the good sense to romantically involve his dithering self with Louisa Guy, played by Rosalind Eleazar.  Louisa quietly outpaces most of her male colleagues with insight, art craft, and a healthy dose of ill will towards the cognitive ability of most men. The relationship between colleagues Min and Louisa stalled in prolonged courtship, awkward limbo, and meta speak. We hope these disparate souls will find a way to survive and perhaps even thrive. More comedy and adolescence are provided by hacker and computer specialist Roddy Ho, played by Australian actor-singer Christopher Chung. Closing out the season one cast is Sid Baker, played by the beautifully talented Olivia Cooke. Sid is a super competent young investigator who has no obvious reason why she finds herself at Slough House.  The real reason may be revealed to those who watch Season 1 to its natural end. Either way, she serves as Rivers’ close confidant and competent colleague.

 British novelist Mick Herron authored the eponymous novel “Slow Horses,” the first of his Slough House series of alt-spy thrillers, ”  Slow Horses serial Apple TV plus drama is written by Will Smith (William James Smith), also known for Veep, and directed by James Hawes. Both Smith and Hawes also serve as executive producers.


Slow Horses Season 1 is now under our belt; the reminder today that Season 2 episode 1 loaded in my watch later folder on Apple TV plus was not unlike the joys of childhood Christmas morning.

Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb
slow-horses-Louis Guy by actress rosalind-eleazar
Dustin Demri-Burns as Min Harper &Rosalind Eleazar as Louisa Guy
Jack Lowden as River Cartwright

Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb

Kristin Scott Thomas as Diana Taverner

Jack Lowden as River Cartwright

Saskia Reeves as Catherine Standish

Jonathan Pryce as David Cartwright

Dustin Demri-Burns as Min Harper

Rosalind Eleazar as Louisa Guy

Christopher Chung as Roddy Ho

Olivia Cooke as Sid Baker



Premise: After a botched and publicly embarrassing training mission, British MI5 officer River Cartwright is exiled to Slough House, an administrative purgatory for service rejects. Known as “Slow Horses”, Cartwright and his colleagues must endure dull, paper pushing tasks and their miserable boss, Jackson Lamb, who expects them to quit out of boredom and frustration. Life in Slough House is defined by drudgery until the Slow Horses become entangled in a dangerous gambit by Regent’s Park. (Source: Wikipedia)

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