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The Emissary (2019)

An idealistic lawyer is recruited by MI5 to broker secret peace negotiations between Chamberlain and Mussolini in a last-ditch effort to avert war in Europe. But his success is bartered away by Hitler’s British appeasers to secure the ill-fated Munich peace accord leading to tragic consequences for his family.
The Emissary

PRODUCERS: Chris Hastings, William Dingli, Rik Hall, Victoria Barrell


DIRECTOR: Luis Prieto

WRITER: William Dingli

GENRE: Spy thriller

AUDIENCE: Adults (50+)

RUN TIME: 100 minutes

STATUS: Development


The Emissary is due to commence production in 2019.


With the international situation deteriorating, Adrian, a decorated former army officer with a famous Maltese-Italian father, is in limbo after being forced to resign from the British government because of his Italian connections and his anti-appeasement views. Recruited by Secret Intelligence Service agent Sir Joseph Ball under orders from Prime Minister Chamberlain, Adrian reluctantly becomes the emissary in the secret channel to Italy, a conspiracy to broker peace with Mussolini’s dictatorship and thereby undermine Hitler – without the knowledge of the British Foreign Office.

Going beyond Ball’s brief, Adrian negotiates a potential deal with Grandi, the Italian ambassador and Italy’s Foreign Minister through the secret channel. However this backfires, heightening the split between Eden, the British Foreign Secretary, and Chamberlain. With Italians in London being labelled as potential enemy agents, Adrian is determined to protect his innocent friends, putting a strain on his marriage to his young German wife Dorothy and their ten year-old son. Adrian’s growing sense of isolation is compounded when Eden is forced to resign leading to Ball’s implicit threat to unjustly expose both him and Dorothy as spies with terrible consequences for their family.

Yet forcing Eden’s resignation proves a masterstroke by Adrian, clearing the path to an historic agreement with the Italians and instigating panic among a suddenly isolated Nazi Germany. Could war be averted after all? But Ball instead uses it as a bargaining chip in Chamberlain’s ill-fated Munich accord with Hitler. As the Prime Minister declares peace in our time, the Italian deal unravels and Adrian is hung out to dry. Ball blackmails him to return to Italy one more time where he has secretly ensured he will be shot as a spy and the embarrassment of the Italian deal airbrushed from history forever.

The Emissary exposes how reaching for the stars, in this case the Holy Grail of peace, can be undermined by the incompetence and ultimately the betrayal of those in authority. Adrian makes the most of the bad hand he has been dealt. But when he is made into a scapegoat by Ball for sealing a deal that could prevent a world war, he makes a heroic choice to save his family at the expense of himself. Like Icarus in Greek myth, Adrian is an idealist who flies too close to the sun and ultimately learns how true honour means protecting the people closest to you from harm.

In the end, Ball, desperate to cover his tracks and suppress the truth, brings false charges against Adrian and MI5 instigate his murder which is covered up as a suicide. Two days later his young son witnesses the seizure of his father’s diary by MI5 agents. However, in 1950, in one last act of defiance, Dorothy smuggles a secret copy over to Grandi, hiding in Portugal, and the truth is preserved for posterity despite the best efforts of Ball and the secret service.

Character Biogs & Casting Suggestions (Principal Roles)

Adrian Dingli – British/Italian lawyer

Aged 50-55, a decorated war hero and a passionate advocate for European peace, Adrian is nevertheless firmly in the anti-appeasement camp before this is compromised by Ball. Last of a fading Maltese/Italian aristocratic line, Adrian is both foreign and part of the old order which makes him vulnerable despite his British citizenship. Idealistic and pragmatic in equal measure, he navigates an impossible line between seizing the moment and protecting his loved ones from the consequences.

Casting: Mark Strong

Mark Strong

Dorothy Dingli – Wife of Adrian

Aged 35-40, and Adrian’s second wife, she’s now a slightly fading beauty and conscious of this. She used to work as a fashion model and then buyer for Harrods before marrying Adrian and producing their only child, Alex. She has a natural Germanic pragmatism, a useful counterweight to her husband’s idealistic leaps of faith. The shadow of his first wife’s suicide hangs over their marriage, a fact not helped by the age gap.

Casting: Gillian Anderson

Gillian Anderson

Sir Joseph Ball – Intelligence agent and PM’s right-hand man

Aged around 40, Ball is a secret service high-flyer who believes he controls the British Prime Minister and, through him, the destiny of the entire nation. Clever and Machiavellian, Ball’s delusions of grandeur are Shakespearian in their scope with overtones of Iago. He will stop at nothing to secure his place in history and an early rejection by a woman lends his ambition extra impetus, especially when that woman turns out to be Dorothy.

Casting: Mark Rylance

Mark Rylance

Dino Grandi – Italian Ambassador to Britain

Aged around 40, Grandi is a debonair Italian gent, very pro-British, popular with the ladies and someone who enjoys the high life. Anti-fascist and not superficial despite outward appearances, Grand has integrity as well as gifts of vision and foresight. This ultimately leads him into a conflict between what he perceives as his duty and his honour.

Casting: Rufus Sewell

Rufus Sewell

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