Hit spy thriller The Night Manager, starring Tom Hiddleston, Olivia Colman and Hugh Laurie – could return for another series, despite no second book to base it on.

The hugely popular series has pulled in 8 million viewers in its Sunday night slot.

And BBC executives are confident they have clinched a deal for another run of the show. Sources claim talks for six more episodes have reached “an advanced stage”, says The Mirror.

It will continue the story of the three main characters – reluctant spy John Pine (Hiddleston), spook Angela Burr (Colman) and arms dealer Dickie Roper (Laurie) – in the aftermath of the explosive conclusion.

The Night Manager was a stand-alone story by John Le Carré and it would be the first time a drama featured characters but not content from one of his novels.

But the production company, The Ink Factory, is run by his sons – Simon and Stephen Cornwell – so the 84-year-old author, whose real name is David Cornwell, has given his blessing.

Simon, the drama’s executive producer, admitted: “We would love to do more with the BBC but I don’t want to tempt fate. I cannot be drawn on a second series.”

But a source revealed: “BBC executives are desperate to have a follow-up series and The Ink Factory is also keen to make more.

“Talks have reached a very advanced stage, there are just a few formalities to tie up. But everyone is confident of it happening.”

Spokespersons for The Ink Factory and the BBC say a second series is not confirmed.

The Night Manager continues on BBC1, Sunday, March 13, 9.00pm.