The Ipcress File

Ashley Thomas on The Ipcress File

Culture /


C&TH talks filming stories, interior design and social media with the British actor

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London-born Ashley Thomas rose to fame as a rapper under the stage name of Bashy. But in 2010, he landed his first television role in the action film Shank. Since then he’s starred in a whole host of on-screen roles, from Black Mirror to the show he’s arguably best known for: Amazon Prime series Them, in which he played Henry Emory. His latest project is ITV’s The Ipcress File, a spy thriller based on the Len Deighton novel of the same name. He’s here to tell us all about it.

Ashley Thomas on The Ipcress File

What can you tell us about The Ipcress File?

The Ipcress File is an exciting espionage thriller set in Berlin and London during the 1960s based on the Len Deighton novel, The Ipcress File, which is the first in the Harry Palmer series. It has been adapted by Oscar nominated and BAFTA award-winning writer John Hodge into a six-part television series for ITV.

Any funny stories from filming?

Filming was fun. There were loads of cool moments that happened – especially in Croatia. We were one big crew and we moved like that, everyone together. We all got along too, it was easy, nothing forced. On our days off, we’d go for walks around the towns we were in. We even went on a boat a few times, all together, playing music and all that, which was nice. The crew on this project were great. One time we were on a boat and Joe was playing music from his phone on the boat speakers, while we were docked. Joe has great music taste, but then he couldn’t find his phone when we were about to pull off, we searched everywhere for it, couldn’t find it but we all said to ourselves ‘the music is playing, so it’s on the boat, somewhere, it’ll turn up’ so the captain pulled off. The music was still playing, vibes popping, then suddenly it stopped, after hitting a wave. The first mate said they saw something drop into the water. It was Joe’s phone. It was on the boat, literally on the top of the boat. He must have put it there while balancing to get on board. Not so funny at the time but he laughed it off and we still had a great day.

Ashley Thomas

Joseph Sinclair

Favourite person on the set of The Ipcress File and why?

Tom Hollander. That’s my guy, he’s hilarious. We really got on. His sense of humour is so dry but it just cracks me up. We really connected. We still hang out now.

Favourite role to date and why?

Probably Henry Emory in Amazon Prime series Them, which was created by Little Marvin. The character was layered on the page and the world he created was rich and full. We were telling an important story. That character resonated with me deeply and really connected with people.

What demands do you have on set?

I don’t have demands like that, just that everyone is professional and respectful to each other. I do like to have candles burning where possible, it calms me.

What qualities do you think have made you successful?

My tenacity, my work ethic, self-discipline and my professionalism. Just being on time, you’re already further along than the people who are late.

Films you think everyone in the world should see?

Boyz n the Hood, The Godfather, Shawshank Redemption and Schindler’s List.

What’s your relationship with social media like?

It’s okay, I try not to let myself be consumed by social media. I take long breaks away from it, but I do think it’s a good way to keep in touch or see what’s going on quickly. I mainly use it to look at architecture, architectural designs, kitchens, bathrooms, flooring, lighting, furniture and time pieces. That’s what I’m into. It’s also cool to see what my friends are up to, especially when I’m away.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

A pilot, I wanted to fly planes for a living. Maybe one day I’ll take lessons.

If you could give advice to your 15-year-old self, what would it be?

Don’t look to anyone else for validation, find it within. And don’t look at anyone else’s journey, your journey will be your journey.

Three books you’d take to a desert island and why?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz and Natives by Akala.

Best British History books

The most challenging moment of your life?

Being strong for my mum when she needed me in 2011. I don’t want to go into details. However, I will say this, my mum is a strong woman, a survivor and I’m proud of her.

How can we all live a little bit better?

By caring for the environment. We’ve got to be responsible for the health of our planet so future generations inherit a healthy planet. And I hope people will have more understanding and compassion for one another, to embrace working together, living in the same communities, and treating one another as equal and deserving human beings.

What’s your interior design style?

I’m just getting into interior design now. I like modern Victorian, design wise. That’s my vibe. I love Edwardian, Georgian and Victorian houses especially.

What is your current beauty regime?

Ha! I think it’s important to keep a good skin regime. Mine is simple: exfoliate, cleanse, toner, hyaluronic acid, vitamin c serum, moisturiser, Phyto Replenish Oil and a sunscreen in that order. I do that every day, it works for my skin.

Tom Hollander in The Ipcress File

Tom Hollander in The Ipcress File

What are your indulgences?

I’m a big foodie. I love food. I’m always eating. Home-cooked food or restaurants, it doesn’t have to be expensive restaurants either, just take me wherever the food is good, hole in the wall, I don’t care, just as long as the food is good and the place is clean. I also love candles! I might have to start making my own though or learning how to make them because I’m spending way too much on premium candles.

What would your best friend say about you?

That when I’ve put my mind on something, that’s it, I’m not stopping until it’s done.

How do you relax?

Getting a deep tissue massage, meditation or listening to music.

If we’re coming to your area for a visit, what should we do?

I live in in Hertfordshire. There are amazing parks all over, I’d suggest going to one of those. The fresh air and biodiversity is amazing.

Are you a rule breaker or a rule taker?

Rule breaker, for sure when I must. But for the most part I just follow the rules where I can.

The Ipcress File is out on ITV on 6 March at 9pm

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