TRUE-LIFE ESPIONAGE yarn adapted for the small screen by masterful TROY “EDGE OF…” KENNEDY MARTIN. Eponymous “ace” (SAM NEILL) is planted inside newly-Revolutionised Russia by UK Whitehall toff Major Fothergill (PETER “DECREASING” EGAN) to sabotage best laid plans of Bolshie bastards. Lenin (KENNETH “LOOT” CRANHAM) and Stalin (DAVID “DR. WATSON MK. I” BURKE) not best pleased.Read More
Posts Tagged With 'Stories all about spies'
A diversion from the usual Potter preoccupations and stylistic tics, with a fairly straight telling of a team of journalists encountering drunken former British aristocrat-turned-Russian spy Adrian Harris (John Le Mesurier) in Moscow. The erudite Harris, evidently closely modelled on Kim Philby, has flashbacks to his unhappy childhood, his distant, Arthurian legend-obsessed father, and what is gradually revealed to be an assassination of a fellow defector overseen by Harris. The repulsion felt by the intellectual upper-middle classes to their forebears’ dreary Old Englandism, as a root cause of their embrace of communism, is the main theme here, but tackled in terms of a very personal alienation. Le Mesurier, relishing a role he later described as his best ever for television, gives a great performance as the broken-backed ideologue, a walking personification of Potter’s desire for a patriotism untainted by jingoistic false nostalgia.
ALEC GUINNESS unearths a mole in the British Secret Service very very slowly, mostly by talking abstractedly about lamplighters and ju-ju men, while MICHAEL JAYSTON steals dodgy dossiers, GEORGE SEWELL watches the door, ANTHONY BATE worries about “the minister”, BERYL REID gets pissed, SIAN PHILLIPS has a lie-in until the very last scene and Seymour off of LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE repeatedly lights a pipe. BERNARD HEPTON, TERENCE RIGBY and IAN RICHARDSON sweated. IAN BANNEN got chased through the Czechoslovakian woods by dogs. Oh, and Control (ALEXANDER KNOX) goes mental. A masterpiece.Read More
STIRRING TREMBLE-LIPPED stoicism from the Second World War, charting the ‘ALLO ‘ALLO-inspiring Belgian resistance capers of BERNARD HEPTON (Albert Foiret) running a restaurant patronized by Nazis while smuggling PoWs out of the country on the side. Unbearably tense, undeniably sentimental but unashamedly ace. JAN FRANCIS was the original resistance ring-leader before getting killed by a falling brick. CHRISTOPHER NEAME was her love interest and British agent who ultimately escaped by driving a bus, Roger Moore-style, very fast towards Switzerland. ANGELA RICHARDS was the angelic-voiced chanteuse and Foiret’s bit on the side, forever irking his bedridden cantankerous missus. CLIFFORD ROSE peered down his nose at all and sundry, failing to ever guess what was going on behind his Beef Wellington, while MICHAEL CULVER almost worked it out before shooting himself and future Demon Headmaster TERRENCE HARDIMAN guessed it but just as the war ended. STEPHEN YARDLEY showed up as a treacherous piano player (always the worst kind), RON PEMBER was the ever-loyal wireless man Alain, and VALENTINE DYALL the superb, non-ruffled Dr Keldermans. Rose resurfaced in KESSLER, wherein his eponymous evil bastard was trying to stay anonymous in some South American banana republic. Opening tracking shot down stills of railway lines, canals, roads and winding tracks set to sombre theme music the epitome of the perfect title sequence.
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SUNDAY NIGHT ROY MARSDEN/RAY LONNEN vehicle. There were several Sandbagger agents; Lonnen was Sandbagger One, the head agent in the field, engaged in typical late 70s spies vs Soviets stuff. Marsden was an ex-Sandbagger One Neil Burnside, now head of the organization, under the MI5 umbrella. Had an American contact in the CIA a la Felix Leiter, played by a ubiquitous American actor whose name escapes us. Several prissy aristocrats were the overlords of the organization, whom Burnside and co always had to circumvent every episode. It was almost purely studio bound, consisting of Burnside’s office, his superior’s office, and the general area where the rest of the Sandbagger agents hung out, but once in a while they’d go “abroad” to a back-projected blue screen, perhaps left over from THE SAINT (see above) that was supposed to be Poland, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Gibraltar or Malta.Read More
KEITH “HAPPY APPLE” WATERHOUSE revives the NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH cricket fanatic diplomats as present day bumbling retirees, who proceed to become entangled in intrigue and murder all over again.Read More
FROM THE PEN of Philip Mackie. Willy Wigglesworth is disenchanted with life at an organisation which is basically a recruitment and testing agency for the spy service. Gets fed up with the paranoia of his boss Cragoe (ALAN HOWARD) who is convinced that the head of a rival agency – an unseen character called Trimble – is out to get him in some way. DR WHO’s missus was in it (she’s in more of these bloody entries than DR WHO himself).Read More
SUPREMELY IFFY spin-off from seminal WELLES/COTTON/cuckoo-clock flick, now with MICHAEL RENNIE as totally different Harry Lime i.e. dull amateur detective (wrong) running import-export business (wrong) but in reality travelling the world and Shepperton Studios solving crime and snapping up pricey works of art (wrong wrong wrong). For a time the Beeb, pissed off with bad behaviour of Frost and co., scheduled it late Saturday nights where previously TW3 had “open-ended” arrangement. In response Frost would end each newly-curtailed edition of THAT WAS… with a full summary of entire storyline of following THIRD MAN episode, including denouement.Read More
TOP HOLE Bond spoofery by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, starring DON ADAMS as Maxell Smart (“Missed me by that much!”) crapola spy working for CONTROL with the help of BARBARA FELDON (Agent 99) and a comedy dog. Adams later lent pipes to grating Gallic-manufactured guffoonery which passed for INSPECTOR GADGET.Read More
BLOATED SPY GAMES from busy-busy pen of LEN DEIGHTON. IAN HOLM is returned to active service to sort out familiar rotten-apple suspicions. Mega-budgeted affair, trailing heels across London, Berlin and Mexico, but which subsequently bombed in the ratings. AMANDA DONOHUE, FREDERICK TREVES and PETER VAUGHN ran for cover.Read More
THIS BILLING, should you choose to accept it, contains gags only marginally less predictable than the entire sum of this well-worn, endlessly re-spun kitschathon, and accordingly will self-destruct in the time it takes to list the principal protagonists who seemed perpetually adept at persuading East European government security guards that they really were just a bunch of contract cleaners in overalls: PETER “AIRPLANE” GRAVES, MARTIN “SPACE 1999″ LANDAU, BARBARA “SPACE 1999 AS WELL” BAIN, GREG MORRIS, STEVEN HILL, BOB “VOICE ON TAPE” JOHNSON and LEONARD “CENSORS INDICATE” NIMOY.Read More
ARCH CAMPERY of a non-Connery kind (well, at least until Diamonds Are Forever) wherein ROBERT “NAPOLEON SOLO” VAUGHAN and DAVID “ILYA KURYAKIN” MACALLUM go out the back of Del Floria’s tailors into the steel-lined corridors and tape spools world of the United Network Command for Law Enforcement for much battling of THRUSH (which stood for bugger all) armed only with a special gun, an ace theme by JERRY GOLDSMITH and the hopes of the free world. Episodes later stitched together to form iffy big screen affairs before begatting inferior GIRL FROM UNCLE.Read More
FEMALE VERSION of SECRET ARMY, essentially, depicting the antics of British undercover agents aiding the resistance in Nazi-occupied France during WW2. Penned by Lavinia Warner and Jill Hyem, previously responsible for the boils-and-all realism of TENKO. SUZANNA HAMILTON and KATE BUFFERY were the two lead operatives, while JANE ASHER co-ordinated proceedings from London’s War Office.Read More
MORE ANTIPODEAN antics (from Crawford, as always), this time by way of their answer to James Bond: secret agent John Hunter, fighting a communist menace epitomised by chief baddie Kragg, a bloke who ultimately became so popular the programme makers made him defect and become a goodie. Which you never got in Carry On Spying.Read More
IN TRUTH, one big long prelude to infinitely superior THE PRISONER, itself supposedly inspired by lead star PATRICK MCGOOHAN’s frustrations at working on this series and being constant plaything of Lord Lew “World Charleston Champion 1926″ Grade. McGoohan played John Drake, roving NATO operative assigned to an assortment of back projections around the world. Deliberately “uptight” bloke – drank little, said less. Influence of Bond films prompted revamp away from half hour playlets into bigger budget 60 minute yarns replete with increased gadget count, and McGoohan re-assigned to makebelieve MI9. Also gained interfering boss figure, Hobbs (PETER MADDEN). Long service ultimately gave McGoohan enough leverage with the man Grade to realise his weather balloon fantasies.Read More
SO SO thriller filler based on famed torture-proof creation of US writer Elleston Trevor, previously subject of big budget mid-60s United Artists effort The Quiller Memorandum. MICHAEL “GUILLAM” JAYSTON did the honours for the Beeb, including being drugged up and afflicted by numerous voodoo curses.Read More