The Top Secret Life of Edgar Briggs (TV Series 1974– ) Poster

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everyone must see it
stefanmolsner7 January 2002
this comedy is the very best tv-series i´ve ever watched. a smal and stupid secret service agent solves difficult problems wihout logic. he himself even doesen´t understand anything about the problems. the dialogues are fantastic and david jason (alias edgar briggs) is brilliant. the other actors fit in very well and so the whole series is full with slapstick, noise and surprise. 13 top- episodes are edited. i hope it will be available on video or dvd soon.
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The Top Secret Life of Edgar Briggs
longhairedbiker18 March 2008
Me and my mates used to gather together in one house to watch this on a Friday night before going to the pub. It was the only programme that ever made us miss opening time. It is one of the best comedies I have ever watched if not the best. David Jason was brilliant and was compared many times to Buster Keaton with his clever stunts that were pulled off so believably. I wish I could get hold of the series on DVD to watch again. He had an amazing ability to make stupid things look believable and this series shows how much talent he has in so many different directions. He is an accomplished "Trip and fall guy" and I remember watching a trailer once where he showed people how to do this professionally. Certainly he is the one to teach people this art. He only showed glimpses of it in other programs he did. Pshaw, this program shows how multi talented he is. I am lost as to why David Jason vetoed another series being made, as for my mind it was one of the best things he has ever done and I've been a fan of his since he did this series. It is said he did not like it because it showed the rawness of his early career. Well to my mind, that might possibly have been the right decision when he took it, but now his career has progressed so far, I believe this would be a good time for him to do another series showing him looking back on his "secret life" full of blunders that he does not see. Rod
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Excellent early David Jason
stuwigan16 November 2007
With the obvious exception of Fools & Horses, this was in my opinion David Jason's finest series.

Coming straight after his TV debut on 'Do Not Adjust Your Set!', these 13 episodes revealed a mastery of comic timing not seen since the old silent movie days. By comparison, Porridge, Open All Hours and that awful series 'Lucky Man' did not come close.

I believe Jason banned the series being repeated because it showed him at his rawest. Shame on him. A new generation deserves to enjoy this. The series actually flopped in the ratings but that is most likely because it was shown against 'The Brothers' which aired on BBC at the same time, before VCRs were commonplace.

BTW, I have only just noticed that his long suffering assistant, Spencer, was played by Mark Eden ; Alan Bradley off Coronation Street. I am amazed he didn't try to murder Edgar Briggs!!!!
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"Hello, darling, its me, Edgar!"
ShadeGrenade12 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Comic secret agents have made a comeback in recent years, with Mike Myers' 'Austin Powers' and Rowan Atkinson's 'Johnny English', and more recently Steve Carell in the big-screen version of the hit '60's show 'Get Smart!'.

Back in 1974, it was David Jason who was wearing a shoulder holster and carrying an attaché case full of documents marked 'Classified'.

'The Top Secret Life Of Edgar Briggs' was his first starring role in a sitcom, after years of being a supporting actor in such shows as 'Six Dates With Barker', the 'Doctor' series, and 'Hark At Barker'.

Humphrey Barclay had found him working in a pier theatre in Bournemouth and was sufficiently impressed to include him alongside Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Eric Idle in the children's comedy show 'Do Not Adjust Your Set!'.

'T.T.S.L.O.E.B' cast Jason as 'Edgar Briggs', a well-meaning but incompetent agent for the Secret Intelligence Service. Whereas John Steed wore a bowler hat, Briggs had a trilby. Whereas Napoleon Solo carried a radio pen, Briggs owned a pipe. Objects fell to bits in his hands. He read Confidential documents in bed while his wife ( Barbara Angell ) perused Woman's Own ( on one occasion it would be the other way round ). When he tracked a pair of Russian agents to a heliport, he accidentally switched on the airport's Tannoy system, and broadcast his plans to capture them! When he hid on a train so as to photograph a meeting between an S.I.S. man and his enemy-contact, it moved off with him aboard and took him straight to Brighton! When he tried to organise the defection of a female Russian scientist, he took a 'short cut' to elude his pursuers, only to wind up hopelessly lost in a car park. Yet, like 'Inspector Clouseau', he always seemed to come out on top at the end, much to the dismay of his colleagues.

As previously mentioned, he was married. His wife Jennifer was understanding about the sort of work he did. Though they had a row once which resulted in her yelling at him from the window of their high-rise flat: "Secret Service this, Secret Service that! You never stop thinking about the Secret Service!". He shouted back: "Think of the neighbours! They're not supposed to know I'm in the Secret Service!".

Briggs was part of a team of agents whose number included 'Coronation Street' villain Mark Eden ( he was the psychotic Alan Bradley ) as 'Spencer', Michael Stainton as 'Buxton', and 'Doctor At Sea''s Elisabeth Counsell as the lovely 'Cathy Strong'. They answered to 'The Commander', played by the late Noel Coleman. The Commander was kidnapped in one episode, leaving Briggs temporarily in charge of the S.I.S. - which naturally horrified everyone.

This hilarious show was by Richard Laing and Bernard McKenna, who had written for the 'Doctor' series. Rather than spoof Bond, it was more of a send-up of the serious spy shows such as 'Callan' ( though it had a Bond-style theme tune ). Furtive meetings in underground car parks, code-breaking, stolen missile plans, that kind of thing. Jason brought a lot of energy to the role, doing a lot of his own stunts, such as Briggs falling off a ladder whilst decorating his flat, and tumbling down a hill in a wastepaper bin, and were reminiscent of those to be found in the 'Pink Panther' films.

'Briggs' had all the ingredients to be a smash-hit. Unfortunately, it was not networked. In the London area, it was put out on Sundays at 7.25 P.M. where it was trounced in the ratings by the B.B.C.'s soapy drama 'The Brothers'. It was then moved to Fridays at 7 P.M. because I.T.V. wanted to showcase its latest American import - the T.V. version of 'Planet Of The Apes'. Briggs never found an audience. A similar fate befell Jason's next major show: 1976's 'Lucky Feller'. It was not until 1977 and 'A Sharp Intake Of Breath' that he found his first successful solo vehicle.

You can see the title sequence ( along with two brief excerpts in German! ) for this series on YouTube. Unfortunately, that is all you can see. Jason will not permit his early starring shows either to be repeated or released on D.V.D. A great shame. For the moment, however, Edgar Briggs' life will have to remain top secret.

CODA: I have seen a number of episodes recently and I'm pleased to say it stands up incredibly well.
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kmoh-15 November 2017
Much of the 1970s were spent in TV-land trying to find a starring vehicle for David Jason. Everyone agreed he was very talented and versatile, and he excelled in particular as a foil for Ronnie Barker. But that leading role escaped him. Pathos didn't work with Lucky Feller, and slapstick didn't work with Edgar Briggs.

Not that Briggs wasn't funny. Some of the stunts are wonderful, the timing excellent. The pratfalls and verbal tics come at you bam-bam-bam, Airplane-style. If there is a drink, Briggs will spill it; if there is a telephone, Briggs will get himself tangled in the wires; if there is a hat, Briggs will cram it down ludicrously on his head; if someone else has a line, Briggs will misinterpret it.

The gags are more miss than hit, but most scenes have one or two splendid moments. The verbal jousting is less effective; situations can't build up slowly and hilariously, because Briggs gets absolutely everything wrong. He forgets who he is talking to, he forgets the orders he has just given. A typical scene might involve Briggs ordering Spencer to conceal his identity and pretend to be Smith; Spencer introduces himself as Smith, and Briggs will immediately call him Spencer loudly, and wonder who Smith is.

So it's not, as some reviewers have suggested, a work of genius. Neither is it, as other reviewers have suggested, a childish load of nonsense. In style, it's probably closest to the Piggy Malone and Charley Farley strand in the Two Ronnies. It is easier to enjoy this if you're not feeling sophisticated. Its very amateurishness is quite endearing. I can certainly understand why David Jason was embarrassed to let it out. But it's fun.
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Very poor comedy from the 70's
anbudmor5 May 2016
I do like David Jason. He's done some very entertaining work. This is not some of this best, or even good work. The comedy is not clever; it is stupid. Clearly others disagree with me here, looking at other reviews and the overall score. This would be barely funny to a 6-year old. Part of the failing is that Jason is the only one with anything resembling anything that could be called funny. He is acting against 5-straight characters. I would say this is at the exact opposite end of the comedy spectrum to Black Adder. I have watched the first 8-episodes, and I would say it is more frustrating to watch than anything. There are so many truly brilliant British comedies to watch before this one. I would suggest not bothering with Edgar Briggs.
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A hidden gem from the 70's
peterrichboy30 August 2017
I was ten years old when this show first aired and it made a lasting impression on me. In particular the lead star David Jason. He dominated the show with a mixture of slapstick comedy and sharp one liners I would cry with laughter, and often wondered why it didn't get more series. It turned out it was up against the Brothers on BBC and lost out in the ratings. A real shame as it was way better than some of it's contemporaries from that era. Also Jason refused for the show to be repeated in later years which could have introduced the show to a new audience. Its from a time when comedies would entertain the whole family and they are a rare breed these days. Catch it if you can!
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The Top Secret Sitcom Starring David Jason
RaspberryLucozade18 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Long before David Jason became the streetwise Del Boy in 'Only Fools & Horses', he was gormless secret agent Edgar Briggs in this Richard Laing and Bernard McKenna scripted show. It came about after Jason had made regular appearances on the Rediffusion sketch show 'Do Not Adjust Your Set!'. Humphrey Barclay ( who pitched Jason on the earlier show ) felt he had great potential to lead a sitcom.

The aforementioned Edgar Briggs was an agent for the SIS ( Secret Intelligence Service ). How he ever got the job there was a mystery. He is clumsy, careless, incompetent and over-zealous. He never listens and is incapable of answering even the simplest of questions correctly and anyone who hears his name ends up almost on the verge of a breakdown. He is married to the lovely Jennifer ( Barbara Angell ), a woman who despite his ineptness, seems to stand by him no matter what.

Briggs' long suffering colleagues include Buxton ( Michael Stainton ), Spencer ( Mark Eden ) and the gorgeous Cathy ( Elisabeth Counsell from 'Doctor At Sea' and 'Brush Strokes' ), all of whom answer to The Commander ( played by the late Noel Coleman ). However, despite his incompetence, Briggs always seems to crack the cases, much to the bewilderment of his colleagues.

The show relied heavily on visual slapstick, usually relying on stunts, not unlike that seen in 'Some Mother's Do 'Ave 'Em'. In one episode Briggs fell off a ladder whilst decorating his flat whilst in another episode he plummeted to the ground from a window ledge.

'The Top Secret Life Of Edgar Briggs' did not find an audience on its original broadcast as it was not networked by ITV. The same problem occurred with his next show, 'Lucky Feller', which was written by Terence Frisby. It would not be until the arrival of 'A Sharp Intake Of Breath' in 1977 that Jason would find his first successful solo vehicle.

It was 'custard pie in the face stuff' which was cringe making, infantile and on the whole pretty appalling, but at the same time in some weird twisted way amusing. David Jason's physical energy and talent for visual comedy helped see 'The Top Secret Life Of Edgar Briggs' through.

When ITV wanted to repeat the show in the '90's, Jason denied permission for it to be re-shown ( or even to be made commercially available ), much to the displeasure of his co-stars, who needed the repeat fees. However it seems he has now had a change of heart as it was released on DVD in 2015. Perhaps his change of heart was triggered by the poor response to his 2011 sitcom 'The Royal Bodyguard'.
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Very Funny Show From The 70's
Yonilikka-224 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I am not six years old and yet I enjoyed 'The Top Secret Life Of Edgar Briggs'. This one-season sitcom was an early vehicle for David Jason, casting him as inept secret agent 'Edgar Briggs'. The character was modelled on 'Inspector Clouseau'; he is clumsy and talks nonsense and yet still manages to come out on top each week. Bernard McKenna and Richard Laing wrote the scripts; they'd previously worked together on London Weekend Television's 'Doctor' series. The supporting cast were, as another reviewer notes, played straight and that was a good thing in my view as it gave Jason a chance to shine more. As the James Bond spy boom had waned by the time of the series, the writers declined to put Briggs in 007-style adventures, and instead spoofed the LeCarre and 'Callan' genre. Good as though it was, the show was unfortunately sabotaged by poor scheduling; it was screened up against the B.B.C. drama 'The Brothers'. Nevertheless, it is now on D.V.D. and we can once again laugh at Edgar's incompetence.
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