Tag Archives: le carre

Stupid, Stupid BBC!

One of my favourite indulgences is to watch a whole TV series, on DVD, seeing each episode in quick succession. I saw most of The West Wing that way, for instance. It means that I don’t have the week-long wait after a cliff-hanger ending, and there’s no danger of missing a broadcast episode, and ruining (at least, as it would have done before the advent of BitTorrent!) the whole run.

Late last year, I treated myself by spending some cash I’d received for Christmas on two double-DVD sets, of the BBC adaptations of John Le Carré‘s cold-war spy thrillers, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and its sequel Smiley’s People (in print, these were separated by a third volume in the trilogy, The Honourable Schoolboy, but this was not adapted by the BBC).

Two damaged copies of the former arrived, one after the other, needing to be returned, as the discs were loose inside the packaging. Then, Amazon were out of stock for some time. After a very frustrating wait, a further replacement copy finally arrived only a week or so ago.

I took advantage of the bank holiday weekend to set aside a couple of afternoons and three evenings to watch the whole lot. I thoroughly enjoyed the seven episodes of Tinker, Tailor…, starring Alec Guinness and with marvellous supporting performances by, among others, Bernard Hepton, Beryl Reid, Ian Richardson and a very young-looking Hywel Bennett. I then decided to watch the accompanying DVD “extra”, a documentary about the making of the series, before moving on to Smiley’s People.

In their wisdom, the BBC had included, with no prior warning, a scene which gave away the plot-twist-ending of Smiley’s People, and even showed the final scene! Though I still enjoyed the second series, it was nowhere near as engaging as it should have been had I been properly kept in suspense.

Whoever allowed such thoughtless idiocy should be sent to a gulag.