Liam Rudden: Deutschland 83 comes to Channel 4

Deutschland '83 TV spy thriller
Deutschland '83 TV spy thriller
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MCMLXXXIII was an exciting year to be young, even with the ever-present fear of a nuclear holocaust.

The Cold War over-shadowed global politics in 1983 while the Berlin Wall ensured the people of East and West Germany were destined to remain apart (for another six years anyway).

In the West, life was easier. Michael Jackson topped the US album charts for 37 weeks with Thriller and in cinemas, Octopussy saw Roger Moore return to the role of James Bond as Matthew Broderick starred in WarGames, in which a young computer whizz kid accidentally starts the countdown to World War 3.

The latter reflected the West’s great suspicion of the East, and vice versa.

That’s reflected in Channel Four’s new foreign language acquisition, the spy thriller Deutschland 83, which started an eight-week run on Sunday.

Set, as the title suggests, in 1983, the series stars Jonas Nay as a 24-year-old native of East Germany sent to the West as an undercover spy for the Stasi.

It’s hard to imagine a society in which luxuries were ‘commonplace’ items such as coffee and branded clothing, yet in the East these things were valuable currency.

That is very much the reality of the East Berlin in which Martin Rauch is drugged and blackmailed into going undercover as Moritz Stamm - code name Kolibri, which translates as Hummingbird - to spy on the West.

Capturing the feel of the period through music and culture, it’s great to hear Peter Schilling’s cracking international hit Major Tom (Coming Home) getting an airing as the drama’s theme tune.

Deutschland 83 holds much promise and so far is proving a gripping old-school spy thriller, complete with micro-cameras, secret meets and information drops, all of which would have been old hat to infamous spies like Anthony Blunt, who just happened to die in 1983.

Maybe that’s an omen.