Throughout three seasons of “Slow Horses,” Jackson Lamb has remained aloof, irascible, and outright hostile to pretty much everyone — especially the “bunch of absolute losers” at Slough House. But he’s never completely unlikable because you’re never quite sure whether he actually does hate everyone or whether he has a soft spot for his band of outcast spooks. That and Gary Oldman is effortlessly brilliant in the role, delivering impeccably-timed crass remarks and insults throughout while still retaining a sense that his veteran MI5 agent is a multi-layered character — even if we hardly ever see those other layers. His relationship with Saskia Reeves’ Catherine Standish, for example, hints at some vestige of compassion and sensitivity lurking beneath Lamb’s disheveled appearance and crude manner.
But the crudeness is what wins out most of the time. His introduction, in fact, is about as crude as you can get. When we first meet Lamb in episode 1 of “Slow Horses,” he’s passed out on a couch in Slough House and prods himself awake with a particularly loud bout of flatulence. The books are full of Lamb letting loose, but it turns out that when it came to the streaming adaptation, this idea to debut the central character in such an unflattering way came directly from none other than Gary Oldman himself. Yes, celebrated thespian and Academy Award-winning megastar Gary Oldman floated the idea to showrunner Will Smith.
Smith revealed the unlikely factoid to Forbes, saying: “I’m pretty sure he was the one who was like, ‘Let’s open with a fart.’ […] I still can’t quite believe that we were allowed to introduce Oscar-winning actor Gary Oldman to the Apple TV+ audience by waking himself up farting, but we did.”