ITV The Ipcress File: Joe Cole’s life from getting arrested, famous actor brother and why he left Peaky Blinders

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The new ITV Cold War spy thriller, The Ipcress File, set-off in stunning form as the opening episode from the six-part drama was broadcast. The eagerly awaited thriller, adapted from the classic Len Deighton novel, was first depicted on the silver screen with a young Michael Caine playing the iconic role of Harry Palmer.

This time round though it is 33-year-old actor Joe Cole taking on the smuggler and British army sergeant turned spy while donning the Caine-esque dark rimmed glasses in a nod to the original. Joe will be familiar to ITV viewers after playing a leading role as Sean Wallace in Sky’s Gangs of London and as John Shelby in BBC’s Peaky Blinders.

READ MORE: BBC EastEnders fans scared 1 of their favourite characters has been killed off as Gray Atkins strikes again

Alongside Joe is a stellar line up with Lucy Boynton, from Bohemian Rhapsody and Murder on the Orient Express, playing top spy Jean and BAFTA award winning actor Tom Hollander from The Night Manager as head of the group of spooks. In the opening episode soldier Harry is caught smuggling and sentenced to eight years back in the UK at a military prison.



Joe Cole (second from the left) as John Shelby next to Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby

But Harry’s impressive network and efficiency have not gone unnoticed, and British intelligence present him with a proposal. To avoid prison, Harry Palmer can become a spy to help recapture a kidnapped nuclear bomb expert in a case named The Ipcress File.

Those unfamiliar with Joe Cole are sure to be hugely impressed with the actor who has received an abundance of praise for his acting prowess.

But it’s not always been plain-sailing for the man who grew up in Kingston and his life could have taken a very different path if it was not for acting. In interviews the young actor has revealed that he was once arrested, he told The Mirror : “I never thought I was gonna be an actor. I had a bit of a bad break-up, I didn’t get into university, I felt very sorry for myself.

“Perhaps I shouldn’t have, but I did. I got arrested. I was just getting up to nonsense, really.” Before landing a place at the National Youth Theatre Joe was selling carpets and coffee, but then secured parts on The Bill and Holby City.



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In 2013 Joe appeared in Peaky Blinders as John Shelby, the younger brother to Tommy played by Cillian Murphy. However despite its phenomenal success, in 2017 Joe made the decision to quit so he could pursue “new avenues and new characters and new stories”.

In April 2020 he admitted to The Metro that Peaky Blinders was very much his co-star’s show, he said: “With Peaky Blinders I never really got out of the gates in that role. It’s Cillian’s show really.” Despite Joe leaving, his brother Finn Cole continued to appear in the Birmingham set drama as Michael Gray, the fellow budding actor first featured in the show in 2014 and can be seen in the final series on BBC.

The Ipcress File can be seen on Sunday nights on ITV at 9pm or you can watch the entire series on ITV Hub.

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