Citadel Lesley Manville

I’ve watched Citadel and Lesley Manville is the ‘bone-chilling’ villain I didn’t realise I needed in my life

Dahlia Archer is wicked in the new Prime Video series...

Citadel has landed on Prime Video, and Lesley Manville plays the villain I didn’t know I needed in my life…

The British TV legend is deliciously evil as villain

The actress is known for playing sweet Cathy in Mum, grieving widow Julie Jackson in Sherwood, and the brilliantly optimistic Ada Harris, a widowed cleaning lady, in Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris.

So her role as corrupt British ambassador is definitely playing against type. But, after watching the series, she’s one of the very best baddies I’ve ever seen on screen…

Lesley Manville with the cast of Citadel at Amazon Prime Video launch
The brilliant Lesley Manville with the cast of Citadel at the launch (Credit: Prime Video)

Citadel on Prime Video review

I liken Citadel to a TV version of James Bond, or Bourne Identity. It’s glossy, action-packed, and has one of THE most beautiful casts ever.

Prime Video paid $250m for this spy thriller, and I think it was worth every penny. Yes, it’s a bit silly in parts. There’s a fight scene in a toilet which seems to go on forever, but Richard Madden’s character Mason Kane walks away without a scratch on his lovely face. And don’t get me started on how Priyanka Chopra Jonas can do battle in a dress THAT tight and sexy.

But this is pure escapist fun, and will leave you wanting more. It’s overtly playful, and perfect for a Saturday night in front of the box.

The Citadel of the title is an international spy agency, whose enemy is Manticore – a super-rich, nefarious, new syndicate. Dahlia Archer is at the helm of the organisation, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on all the codes to all the nuclear weapons in the world.

And the villainous Dahlia is the stuff of nightmares.

What’s the plot of Citadel starring Lesley Manville?

A synopsis from Prime Video tells us: “Eight years ago, Citadel fell. The independent global spy agency – tasked to uphold the safety and security of all people – was destroyed by operatives of Manticore, a powerful syndicate manipulating the world from the shadows.

“With Citadel’s fall, elite agents Mason Kane (Richard Madden) and Nadia Sinh (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) had their memories wiped as they narrowly escaped with their lives. They’ve remained hidden ever since, building new lives under new identities, unaware of their pasts.”

It continues: “Until one night, when Mason is tracked down by his former Citadel colleague, Bernard Orlick (Stanley Tucci), who desperately needs his help to prevent Manticore from establishing a new world order. Mason seeks out his former partner, Nadia, and the two spies embark on a mission that takes them around the world in an effort to stop Manticore, all while contending with a relationship built on secrets, lies, and a dangerous-yet-undying love.”

LESLEY MANVILLE as Julie Jackson in Sherwood
Lesley Manville deserved all the awards for her portrayal of Julie Jackson in Sherwood (Credit: BBC One)

I’ve watched Citadel and Lesley Manville is ‘bone-chilling’ as villain Dahlia Archer

Perhaps I find Lesley Manville so disturbing as the baddie Dahlia Archer because it’s not her usual role. She could be your neighbour, or even your kid’s teacher.

But don’t be fooled by the lady in the straw hat and the innocuous stripey Breton top pruning her roses… Dahlia is capable of the worst of humanity.

When viewers are first introduced to the character, she threatens a man who has information she needs. But she doesn’t need to use violence, because she can hurt him in other ways. She tells him: “Shall we plant explosives on your daughter’s British Airways flight tomorrow, as she flies back from Oxford?

“Or shall we abduct your wife and bury her alive in my rose garden?”

And, from the dead eyes, you know she means every word.

Dahlia is the British ambassador, who is secretly plotting world domination. And I love Lesley Manville in everything, so feel the need to hug her. But something tells me her new character Dahlia doesn’t do hugs. And I probably wouldn’t survive the experience!

Showrunner David Weil says: “She’s the villain of the story, but as all the best villains are, she’s the heroine of her own story. So we needed an actor who could achieve both: to be both bone-chilling and elegant.”

Of course, Lesley Manville nails it!

Chatting at the Citadel premiere, Lesley said: “It is fun to be bad, there’s no denying it. I’ve played some bad characters, and lots of good characters, but the bad ones are always a little more delicious to play. Especially when you look across the table and there’s Stanley Tucci, and it’s him you’re really giving a bad time too. He probably still doesn’t like me very much!”

Talking about her character, she said: “Dahlia Archer is the UK Ambassador to the USA. But she also has another hat that she wears, and it’s not a very nice hat. She gets things done, that other people would be scared about doing. She’s ruthless, and there’s a dark side to her. There is a ruthless, iron side to her. You should be scared of her.”

Who is the cast of Citadel on Amazon Prime Video?

Bodyguard actor Richard Madden leads the cast of Citadel as square-jawed secret agent Mason Kane.

Quantico star Priyanka Chopra Jonas portrays fellow spy Nadia Sinh.

Inside Man‘s Stanley Tucci is typically brilliant as Bernard Orlick, while Lesley Manville stars as Dahlia Archer.

The Feed’s Osy Ikhile is Carter Spence, Westside’s Ashleigh Cummings stars as Abby Conroy, while The North Waters’ Roland Møller portrays twins Anders Silje and Davik Silje.

Caoilinn Springall, who played the young Iris in The Midnight Sky opposite George Clooney, plays Hendrix Conroy.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Richard Madden pictured at the Global
Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Richard Madden lead the cast of Citadel (Credit: Prime Video)

How can I watch Citadel?

Citadel launches on Friday, April 28, 2023 on Amazon Prime Video.

The first two episodes dropped on that day to whet your appetite.

Future episodes will drop weekly every Friday until May 26.

Read more: The Devil’s Hour on Prime Video: Peter Capaldi thriller will return for series 2 and 3

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Citadel episodes 1 and 2 are currently available to watch on Prime Video, with new episodes dropping on Fridays throughout May.

What do you think of Lesley Manville’s performance in Citadel? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.

Helen Fear
TV Editor