Sacha Baron Cohen – surely one of Britain’s most successful actors and comedians – has for the most part been focussing on his movie-making career ever since the runaway success of Borat in 2006. He’s had a string of hits including Brüno and roles in genuinely high-profile films like Les Misérables.
But for many of us, nothing compares to the work that we first fell in love with. I am, of course, talking about Da Ali G Show, which ran on Channel 4 and then HBO in the US from 2000-2004.
The show was pretty revolutionary in terms of TV, comedy and style, with no interviewee ever being quite prepared for what they were about to face. Here’s a classic moment with now-president Donald Trump:
And now 46-year-old Cohen is returning to a regular TV role, this time on Netflix. Called The Spy, the new six-episode series will tell the story of Eli Cohen, a spy for Israel in Syria in the early 1960s. Basically, much more serious than what we’d usually expect from the comedian.
According to Wikipedia, Cohen – the spy not the actor – worked for years inside Syria collecting sensitive information and eventually rising to the rank of Chief Adviser to the Minister of Defense, before he was uncovered and executed in 1965.
Apparently, the spy was also famous for holding extravagant orgies at his home in Damascus where he would invite Syrian ministers and businessmen before getting them drunk and hoovering up any military or political gossip they’d share while pissed and distracted by the endless bonking. (Cohen was also said to have at least 17 lovers in Syria all for himself).
The intelligence he gathered before his arrest is said to have been an important factor in Israel’s success in the Six Day War in 1967.
The series will be written and directed by Gideon Raff, the creator of the series Prisoners of War on which Homeland is based, according to Variety. Légende Films and Alain Goldman are producing.