First broadcast in 1988 and featuring a cast heavy with stars such as Edward Woodward, Denholm Elliott and Richard E. Grant along with a script by John Hopkins (of Smiley’s People fame), this two-parter was one of the best of the bleak 1980s British espionage thrillers
Both the British in London and the Russians in Moscow suffer from a high-level mole, the identities of both of whom are revealed to the viewer early on as the show concentrates on their twists and turns to protect themselves. Throw in a third character who pretends to be a defector but isn’t and you rapidly need to draw a flowchart as the show unfolds to keep on top of who is doing what and why, especially as, with so many characters wrongly informed about what is actually happening, most of the events too are based on characters making mistakes thanks to their lack of knowledge.
Along the way there are some great 1980s hairstyles to enjoy (step forward, Richard E. Grant) and the unexpected pleasure of a car chase filmed through what are now highly congested central London venues such as Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square.
The DVD itself is fairly basic. No extras, no subtitles and though it has the full two episodes (rather than the cut down TV movie version), the editing around the advert breaks is not consistent. None of those flaws, however, need get in the way of the fun.
If you like this, you might also be interested in David Hare’s Page Eight.
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