28 November 2013 11:00 PM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

The BBC's new spy drama takes us back to the dark days of the cold war, but it's no Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

London, 1974, is the setting for Legacy (BBC2). The UK is in the middle of the worst recession since the 1920s; three-day weeks, rising inflation, strikes and power cuts have brought the country to its knees. The intelligence service suspects that trade union dissent is being orchestrated by the Soviet Union; this is the cold war, there are reds under every other bed. But half the time you can't see them because the lights aren't working. Hurricane lamps – named after the brightest light in snooker at the time – are what they used; 1974 was dim and flickery.

A man, Charles, leaves his south London flat in a raincoat. (In 1974, everyone – women and children too – wore raincoats, and smoked, and drank whisky, and filed things in filing cabinets.) To a purposeful string score, »

- Sam Wollaston

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