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Greek government upset spy show denied access to ancient temple

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    A full moon rises near the ancient marble Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, southeast of Athens, in 2016. The Greek government has slammed a decision by the country’s powerful archaeological council not to allow the BBC to film part of a serialized adaptation of a John le Carre novel in Cape Sounion, site of an ancient temple of Poseidon.

ATHENS, Greece >> A highly-anticipated television series adapting spy novelist John le Carre’s “The Little Drummer Girl” will not include scenes from an ancient site near Athens after a panel of archaeologists turned down an access request by the BBC and the U.S.-based cable network AMC.

Greece’s powerful Central Archaeological Council denied the one-day access request to the 2,500-years old Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion next month, saying the site would be closed to visitors for too many hours and the production team would be too large.

The decision triggered a furious reaction from the Greece’s government, which launched a campaign three days ago to attract film productions to Greece with a series of incentives. The government says overseas productions could be a key growth area in the country that is emerging from eight years of crippling financial crisis.

“We have declared that Greece is now film-friendly. A few days later, another institution is contradicting this, not us but the hopes and ambitions of artists, technicians and thousands of professionals that are a part of this industry. It is an international embarrassment,” Lefteris Kretsos, general secretary at the government’s media and communication department, said Thursday.

The decision, he said, “once again highlights the issues we have as a country.”

Filming at Greek archaeological sites, whether for commercial productions or news reporting, requires a permit from archaeologists that is often near impossible and very costly to obtain.

The six-part series is due for global release next year and stars Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgard and Britain’s Florence Pugh, while South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook will make his television debut with the project.

In the 1983 novel, an Israeli spy chief hunts a Palestinian bomber around Europe, recruiting a young English actress to try and expose him.

Ten of Le Carre’s novels have been adapted to movies. His work is also widely known from the BBC TV series “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “Smiley’s People,” starring Alec Guinness as Cold War intelligence officer George Smiley.

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