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What’s On TV – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

List Item:  Watch half of the 1001 TV Series You Must Watch Before You Die
Progress: 194/501
Title: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Episodes Aired: 7
Year(s): 1979
Country: UK

The BBC makes the best miniseries. I mean, sure, HBO have made some amazing one and there’s always ITV’s Brideshead Revisitedbut the BBC really is the tops. Especially if you include documentary series like The Blue Planet and Planet Earth – then no channel can touch it.

Based on the 1974 novel of the same name – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is the story of an experienced spy ferreting out a mole within the British Intelligence Community. The title itself coming from a nursery rhyme used to give code names to the main suspects.

Over the course of 7 episodes we watch the untangling of webs of intrigue as we dig deeper and deeper to the centre of the plot. My problem? I guessed who the mole was right away as I have more than a basic working knowledge of British TV actors – which probably didn’t detract too much from the reveal, but it made it feel that little bit cheaper.

Full phrase has to be given to Alec Guinness who is beyond brilliant in the lead role of George Smiley. He is surrounded by a fantastic ensemble (as was the fashion of the time) with Ian Richardson, Beryl Reid and Michael Jayston being stand-outs. However, even with this ensemble, there was a noticeable gap in most scenes without the presence of Alec Guinness.

Another slight criticism is how this sagged a bit in the middle. It’s one of those things that tends to happen with shows of this length. In the case of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy it was a mixture of a slightly over-complex spy plot and a lot of names of older white men. It cleared up eventually and, when it did, it was utterly riveting.

So yes, Whilst Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy doesn’t quite top Pride & Prejudice or I, Claudius, this was still a compelling watch.