Slow Horses

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Slow Horses
Slow Horses series promotional image.png
Based onSlow Horses
by Mick Herron
Written by
Directed by
Theme music composerMick Jagger
Country of origin
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes6
Executive producers
ProducerJane Robertson
CinematographyDanny Cohen
  • Katie Weiland
  • Luke Dunkley
Running time41-53 minutes
Production companies
Original networkApple TV+
Original release1 April 2022 (2022-04-01) –

Slow Horses is a spy thriller television series based on the "Slough House" series of novels by Mick Herron. The series premiered on Apple TV+ on 1 April 2022.[1] Season two is scheduled to premiere on December 2, 2022.[2] In June 2022, the series was renewed for third and fourth seasons.[3]


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 "The Park" (the name by which the fictional headquarters of MI5 is known, derived from its location at Regent's Park).



  • Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb, the head of Slough House. Slovenly and drunk most of the time, his bad habits belie his keen mind and his abilities as an experienced intelligence officer.
  • Jack Lowden as River Cartwright, an up-and-coming MI5 agent who was demoted after a very public training exercise mistake.
  • Kristin Scott Thomas as Diana Taverner, the Deputy Director-General of MI5 and head of operations codenamed "Second Desk".

Slough House[edit]

Sons of Albion[edit]


MI5 Headquarters[edit]


Season 1: Slow Horses[edit]

No.TitleDirected by [4]Written byOriginal release date [5]
1"Failure's Contagious"James HawesWill Smith1 April 2022 (2022-04-01)

After making a serious mistake during a live training exercise at Stansted Airport, MI5 agent River Cartwright is demoted to dead end work at Slough House in lieu of being fired. He is assigned by his superior Jackson Lamb to carry out surveillance on Robert Hobden, a journalist associated with far-right politicians Peter Judd MP and Roger Simmonds. His colleague Sidonie 'Sid' Baker has also been assigned to Hobden, discreetly copying the contents of his USB flash drive in a cafe. River is then instructed to deliver it to the service's Regent's Park Headquarters, much to his surprise.

Hobden makes a series of calls to journalist colleagues alleging he has information an "attack is imminent". Cartwright visits his grandfather, who reveals Hobden was blacklisted when his name appeared on a leaked donor list of the British Patriotic Party, and always blamed MI5 for it. He warns Cartwright that if MI5 are using Slough House to look into Hobden, it is because there is risk and they want plausible deniability. Standish attends an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. British-Pakistani student Hassan Ahmed is kidnapped by a far right group Sons of Albion, who announce they will behead him on livestream at sunrise the following day. River breaks rank and leaves Slough House to further investigate.
2"Work Drinks"James HawesWill Smith1 April 2022 (2022-04-01)

Hassan's kidnappers, Moe, Larry, Curly and Zeppo, hold him hostage in a London terrace basement, with it transpiring that Simmonds is behind the kidnapping. Cartwright, having copied the contents of Hobden's USB drive before delivering it to Regent's Park, realises it contains no information and manipulates a rival, James 'Spider' Webb, into confirming the same. Standish begins having flashbacks to the death of a former colleague of hers and Lamb's, Charles Partner. Slough House's cyber expert Roddy Ho discovers he cannot hack Hobden's laptop as it is air gapped, furthering everybody's suspicions.

Deputy-Director General Diana Taverner approaches another member of Slough House, Jed Moody, and instructs him to do some "off book" work for her. Two other members of Slough House, Min Harper and Louisa Guy, meet in the pub after work and lament their failed careers. Cartwright and Sid are assigned to tail Hobden, but she confesses that she moved to Lamb's team to keep tabs on Cartwright. The two see a masked man enter Hobden's home and pursue him, discovering upon entry that the journalist was able to destroy his hard drive with thermite. Hobden escapes as River and Sid fight the masked man, however he escapes after shooting Sid in the head.
3"Bad Tradecraft"James HawesWill Smith8 April 2022 (2022-04-08)

Sid, alive but in critical condition, is taken to hospital by MI5 security operatives who detain Cartwright. Lamb breaks him out, and the two deduce Moody was the gunman sent to kill Hobden. Moody returns to Slough House and attacks Min and Louisa when they re-enter, but is killed when he breaks his neck falling down the stairs in a scuffle. Lamb theorises that Slough House is going to be blamed for whatever operation Regent's Park is running and be disavowed if it fails.

Taverner meets with Lamb and reveals Ahmed is the nephew of the second in command of Pakistani Military Intelligence. His kidnapping and intended rescue is an unsanctioned false flag operation masterminded by herself to potentially increase cooperation with Pakistan as well as neutralise and intimidate the far-right. She claims to have an operative embedded with the Sons of Albion who organised the kidnapping, but will also facilitate the rescue. It is also revealed that Standish narrowly escaped a treason charge through her links with Partner and his death.

Hobden meets with Peter Judd MP and tries to convince him to go public with the information that Hassan's kidnapping is a setup, but is rebuked. Curly is seen making a series of discreet calls with a burner phone, implying he is Taverner's mole. Hassan tries, but fails, to escape and is threatened by Moe. Giving him a chance to save face, Taverner offers Lamb's team the opportunity to signal to her man the raid is about to commence, allowing him to escape with Hassan. He, Cartwright, Min and Louisa arrive at the property, but upon entry discover it empty aside from Moe's beheaded corpse.
4"Visiting Hours"James HawesMorwenna Banks15 April 2022 (2022-04-15)

It is revealed that Moe (real name Alan Black) was Taverner's mole, but was found out and murdered by Curly, who then fled with Zeppo, Larry and Hassan. Driving out of London, Zeppo and Larry reveal that they never intended to go through with killing Ahmed, and entertain the idea of releasing him, becoming increasingly concerned with Curly's erratic behaviour and rhetoric.

Lamb and his team flee the property before "The Dogs" arrive, knowing that since the operation has not gone to plan that Slough House will be blamed. Cartwright is able to rescue Roddy Ho before he can be taken into custody, but Min and Louisa are unable to stop their colleague Struan from being taken from his home by operatives. Taverner calls Standish several times to flip her allegiance, alleging that Lamb was involved with Charles Partner's death, but she remains loyal to him when he comes to extract her. Leaving her house the two are apprehended by James Webb and head of security Nick Duffy, who force them into a car after searching Lamb. En route to Regent's Park, Standish is able to free herself and Lamb after pulling a Glock 17 from her handbag, the weapon having been taken from Moody and placed there by Lamb.

Having discovered the fallout of the failed operation, Director General of the Security Service Ingrid Tierney pulls out of a State Department meeting in the US and heads back to the UK, giving Taverner limited time to tie off loose ends. She manipulates Struan into giving false evidence that Lamb was the mastermind behind the false flag operation involving Black, instead of herself.
5"Fiasco"James HawesMark Denton & Jonny Stockwood22 April 2022 (2022-04-22)

The rest of the team reconvene, and River recalls he took a photo of Taverner covertly meeting with Alan Black whilst carrying out surveillance training. Lamb "returns" Duffy's car to Regent's Park Headquarters and demands to speak with Taverner. She offers him a way out that will result in him being fired but not charged, but also threatens Standish and tells him Sid has died in hospital. However, Lamb informs her there is a bomb in the car he returned, which allows Cartwright to sneak in whilst Duffy's security team investigates.

He confronts Webb, alleging Taverner had him purposefully feed him incorrect intel during the Stansted exercise so he would fail and be demoted, as he had the photograph of her meeting with Black. After locating the photo and evading security, he and Lamb threaten to reveal Taverner's operation to the Director-General and the press.

Standish and Ho are able to identify the van being used by the Sons of Albion, as it is linked to a previous cover identity used by Black, and begin to track it. Running out of petrol, Curly announces he still plans to behead Ahmed and die resisting arrest, but Zeppo takes over after pulling a handgun he secretly took from Black's corpse. Hassan tells the group his uncle can offer them money for his safe return. However, after refuelling, Curly is able to disarm and execute Zeppo, regaining control.
6"Follies"James HawesWill Smith29 April 2022 (2022-04-29)

Taverner confronts Judd at his home, revealing that calls he made to his far-right contacts after Hobden visited resulted in the mission being compromised and Black's death. Tierney returns from the US, ordering all loose ends be tied up after Taverner further lies to her about the operation. Curly forces Larry and Hassan to a secluded woodland at gunpoint to carry out the beheading. However, Larry frees Ahmed and attacks Curly with an axe, but flees which enables an injured Curly to recapture Hassan. Larry arrives at a seaport in Harwich, but is shot dead by "The Dogs" on the orders of Tierney, who plant a weapon on his corpse to justify the killing.

Curly prepares to kill Hassan outside what he believes is a Norman castle, which Ahmed points out is actually a folly. Lamb, Cartwright, Min and Louisa, with assistance from Roddy, are able to track them to the same location. Curly and River engage in a brief shootout, before he is knocked out by Hassan with a rock. "The Dogs" arrive, but the group prevent them from killing the detained Curly.

With the outcome seemingly a success, Roddy tells River that all traces of Sid’s name have been wiped from existence, indicating she may still be alive. Hobden is killed by Duffy. It is revealed that Charles Partner was the former Director General of MI5, and officially committed suicide as he was being blackmailed by a foreign intelligence service. Lamb tells Standish he knew and provided the gun, as Partner was a close friend. However a flashback reveals Lamb actually killed him and made it look like a suicide, on the orders of River's grandfather David Cartwright.

Season 2: Dead Lions[edit]

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date [6]
1"Last Stop"Jeremy LoveringWill Smith2 December 2022 (2022-12-02)
2"From Upshott with Love"Jeremy LoveringMorwenna Banks2 December 2022 (2022-12-02)
3"Drinking Games"Jeremy LoveringMorwenna Banks9 December 2022 (2022-12-09)
4"Cicada"Jeremy LoveringMark Denton & Jonny Stockwood16 December 2022 (2022-12-16)
5"Boardroom Politics"Jeremy LoveringMark Denton & Jonny Stockwood23 December 2022 (2022-12-23)
6"Old Scores"Jeremy LoveringWill Smith30 December 2022 (2022-12-30)


The series was given a straight to series order by Apple TV+ in October 2019, with Gary Oldman announced to star.[7] The cast was rounded out in December 2020 with the additions of Olivia Cooke, Jonathan Pryce, Kristin Scott Thomas and Jack Lowden. Initially the series was to consist of two seasons, but two additional seasons have since been ordered.[3] The first season is based on Herron's first book in the series, Slow Horses, with the second series based on the sequel, Dead Lions.[8]

Filming began on 30 November 2020, in England, and continued into February 2021, with Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas spotted on set in Westminster, London.[9] In July 2021, filming continued in Stroud, Gloucestershire.[10]

It was originally intended to film earlier in 2020 but was delayed to the COVID-19 pandemic.[11][9] When the release date was announced in February 2022, it was also revealed that the first series would be 6 episodes, and that they would all be directed by James Hawes.[4] The second season is to premiere in December 2022.[2] In June 2022, ahead of the second series premiere, it was renewed for a third and fourth series, which will be based on the next novels in the series, Real Tigers and Spook Street..[3][12]

The title track "Strange Game" was performed by Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, who wrote the song exclusively for the show[13] together with the show’s composer Daniel Pemberton.


Season one of the series premiered on 1 April 2022, on Apple TV+.[14]

Season two, directed by Jeremy Lovering and based on the second book in Herron's series, Dead Lions, will premiere on 2 December 2022.[15]


Rotten Tomatoes reports a 95% approval rating with an average rating of 7.7/10, based on 55 critic reviews. The website's critics consensus reads, "Slow Horses refreshes the espionage genre by letting its band of snoops be bumbling, with Gary Oldman giving a masterclass in frumpy authority."[16] On the review aggregator Metacritic, the series has a weighted average score of 78 out of 100 based on 22 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[17]


  1. ^ "Trailer for new Apple Original espionage drama "Slow Horses," starring Academy Award winner Gary Oldman, debuts ahead of global premiere on April 1, 2022". 2 March 2022. Retrieved 27 October 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Apple's hit espionage drama "Slow Horses" debuts season two trailer". 19 October 2022.
  3. ^ a b c "'Slow Horses' Renewed Through Season 4 at Apple TV+". The Hollywood Reporter. 1 June 2022. Retrieved 17 June 2022.
  4. ^ a b Petski, Denise (4 February 2022). "'Slow Horses' Starring Gary Oldman & 'Roar' Anthology Series Get Premiere Dates On Apple TV+". Deadline. Retrieved 21 February 2022.
  5. ^ "Shows A-Z – Slow Horses on Apple+". The Futon Critic. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  6. ^ "Slow Horses Season 2 Episode List". IMDb. Retrieved 27 October 2022.
  7. ^ White, Peter (15 November 2019). "Gary Oldman To Star In Spy Drama 'Slow Horses' For Apple With 'Justified's Graham Yost Exec Producing". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  8. ^ Andreeva, Nellie; Kanter, Jake (14 December 2020). "Apple's 'Slow Horses' Adds Olivia Cooke & Jonathan Pryce, As Producer See-Saw Shoots Two Stories Back-To-Back". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  9. ^ a b Steves, Ashley (23 February 2021). "U.K. What's Filming: 'The Essex Serpent' + 'Slow Horses'". Backstage. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
  10. ^ Loveridge, Ashley (29 July 2021). "A & A Taxis and Cafe Max used as the backdrop for Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas spy drama".
  11. ^ Kanter, Jake (30 September 2020). "Apple Restarts UK Drama Production, As 'Suspicion' & 'Slow Horses' Prepare To Shoot". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  12. ^ Petski, Denise (1 June 2022). "'Slow Horses' Renewed For Seasons 3 & 4 By Apple TV+". Deadline Hollywood.
  13. ^ Says, Joseph. "Mick Jagger's 'Slow Horses' Theme Song 'Strange Game' Released | Film Music Reporter". Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  14. ^ Sanchez, Gabrielle (4 February 2022). "Apple TV Plus shares first look at espionage series 'Slow Horses' starring Gary Oldman". The A.V. Club.
  15. ^ "'Slow Horses' Season 2 Arrives on Apple TV+ in Time for the Holidays". Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  16. ^ "Slow Horses: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 16 July 2022.
  17. ^ "Slow Horses: Season 1". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved 20 April 2022.

External links[edit]