The Ipcress File: Book vs TV show – the differences, the ending and more


Francesca Shillcock

ITV’s latest drama, The Ipcress folder, will be a familiar name and story to many as it is based on the famous book of the same name and the iconic 1960s film starring Michael Caine. But many wonder about its origin story.

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Ahead of the new episode of the drama, which stars Peaky Blinders‘Joe Cole and Bohemian RhapsodyLucy Boynton leads the cast, find out everything there is to know about the book and the story behind it The Ipcress folder.

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WATCH: The Ipcress File – see the official trailer

Who wrote the book The Ipcress File?

The IPCRESS file is a 1962 book by novelist Len Deighton. The novel received huge praise from readers and critics, and three years later a film adaptation starring Michael Caine was released. The film also received accolades and received a BAFTA award for Best British Film.

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Lucy Boynton stars in The Ipcress File

Is the Ipcress dossier a true story?

No, The Ipcress folder is not a true story. The inspiration for the book is said to come from a neighbor who lived next door to the writer, Len Deighton, who was a Russian spy in Germany during World War II.

Set in the Cold War, the story centers on an unnamed protagonist (named Harry Palmer in the film and TV series) who is tasked with finding a kidnapped nuclear scientist.

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Are you watching the new series?

How similar is ITV’s The Ipcress File to the book?

The biggest difference between the film and the ITV adaptation of the book is that the main character has a name. Michael Caine took on the role of Harry Palmer in the film, while Joe Cole portrays him in the updated series. The book, however, sees the investigator remain anonymous.

However, there are similarities between the new series and the 1965 film. Joe can be seen in the drama wearing thick-rimmed glasses, which was presented as a nod to the character of Michael, who wore a pair very similar, and quickly became an iconic part of the actor’s look.


Joe Cole plays Harry Palmer

What happens at the end of The Ipcress File?

Warning! Spoilers ahead, so stop scrolling now if you don’t want to know what’s going on…

Towards the end of the series, Harry Palmer ends up being brainwashed with the same technique that had formed the basis of the story throughout.

After Harry leaves town after the brainwashing treatment, he is told that the treatment didn’t work. However, it soon turns out that it did indeed work, and in an instant Harry is triggered and ready to shoot the President at the Prime Minister’s Residence, but Dalby eventually intervenes, Harry shooting US General Cathcart at the square.

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