Edit
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (TV Mini-Series 1979) Poster

(1979 TV Mini-Series)

Trivia

Jump to: Spoilers (1)
Shortly before filming began, Alec Guinness asked author John le Carré to introduce him to a real spy to aid him in preparing for his role. Le Carré invited him to dinner with Sir Maurice Oldfield, who served as Chief of the British Intelligence Service from 1973-78. During their meal Guinness studied Sir Oldfield intently, noting any mannerisms/quirks he could use in his performance; when he saw Oldfield run his finger around the rim of his wineglass, and asked whether he was checking for poison, to Oldfield's astonishment as he was only checking how clean the glass was.
Alec Guinness was very concerned that he wasn't the right type to portray the "frog-like" George Smiley. Three weeks into filming, Alec Guinness panicked and asked to be replaced, and recommended Arthur Lowe for the role of Smiley. However, he eventually overcome his doubts and went on to receive critical acclaim for his role.
During production, Alec Guinness complained that George Smiley's characteristic habit, polishing his glasses with the fat end of his tie, could not be done naturally because London's cold weather resulted in Smiley wearing three-piece suits. Thus a handkerchief was used as a substitute. John le Carré's sequel novel 'Smiley's People', mentioned a statement referring to this issue: "From long habit, Smiley had taken off his spectacles and was absently polishing them on the fat end of his tie, even though he had to delve for it among the folds of his tweed coat."
The code name for the British Intelligence secret service was "The Circus". John le Carré told the producer that the BBC offices matched his image of the Circus, and so parts of the Circus office interiors were filmed in the offices of the BBC.
John le Carré has admitted that the vocabulary used in the novels/series (babysitters, lamplighters, the Circus, the nursery, moles) was made up. He was later amused to discover that real agents had begun to appropriate some of his vocabulary once his espionage stories were published.
John le Carré based the character of Karla (played by Patrick Stewart) on the KGB's Major General Rem Krassilnikov who was a counter-intelligence spy for the KGB's State Security Committee.
Source author John le Carré included 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' as one of his four best novels during an interview on 5 October 2008 on BBC Four. The other best works he selected were 'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold', 'The Tailor of Panama' and 'The Constant Gardener'.
The Czechoslovakia scenes were filmed in and around Glasgow, Scotland, which producer Jonathan Powell says "was a very rough, poverty-stricken place" in 1979.
Alec Guinness loosely based George Smiley's look and behaviour on Sir Maurice Oldfield, a former head of British intelligence. John le Carré also claims that Alec Guinness "stole his hairstyle" for George Smiley.
John le Carré was so impressed by Alec Guinness's performance as George Smiley that in later novels he wrote Smiley's characterization to be in keeping with Guinness's performance.
John le Carré based the character of Connie Sach (played by Beryl Reid) on Milicent Jessie Eleanor Bagot, a Sovietologist and British Intelligence spy.
Sir Alec Guinness was the third actor to play John le Carré's famous character George Smiley in film and television. Guinness played him twice, in this mini-series and in its sequel, Smiley's People (1982). Rupert Davies was the first actor to play Smiley in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) whilst James Mason was the second in The Deadly Affair (1966) though the Smiley character here was renamed Charles Dobbs. Denholm Elliott was the fourth actor to play Smiley in A Murder of Quality (1991) whilst Gary Oldman is the fifth actor to play him in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011).
Smiley's address is 9 Bywater Street, Chelsea. This is an actual existing address, but ironically scenes set at this location were filmed next door, at 10 Bywater Street.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The series's initial broadcast coincided with the UK Government announcing that Anthony Blunt, the Keeper of the Queen's Pictures, was one of the Cambridge Five (a ring of spies in the UK who passed information to the Soviet Union during/post-World War II).
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Bernard Hepton, who plays Toby Esterhase in the series, later went on to play George Smiley in the BBC radio play of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and "Smiley's People".
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
In the United States, syndicated broadcasts compressed the seven British episodes into six (also the current U.S. DVD version), thus scenes were shortened and the narrative sequence altered. In the British version, George Smiley visits Connie Sachs before Peter Guillam's burglary at the Circus, while the U.S. version reverses the sequence of these events.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
In the United States, the PBS network broadcast the series as a Great Performances (1971) programme introduced by the Canadian journalist Robert MacNeil, who explained the workings of the British Secret Service.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Based on author John le Carré's novel 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
John le Carré once paid an unexpected visit to the set during filming. Alec Guinness stopped acting immediately and asked that le Carré leave so he could continue. Guinness later maintained that it was disconcerting performing with le Carré watching, as he had based a lot of Smiley's performance on the writer himself.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
John le Carré's 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' novel, was based on the uncovering, during the 1950s and 60s, of the Cambridge Five traitors who were KGB moles working within the SIS.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The title of this mini-series and its source novel is taken from an English children's rhyme 'Tinker, Tailor' that reads: "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief".
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The 1974 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' novel is the first book in John le Carré's Karla or Quest for Karla Trilogy, the second and third parts being 'The Honourable Schoolboy' (1977) and 'Smiley's People' (1979).
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
This TV series was made and broadcast about five years after John le Carré's 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' novel was first published in 1974.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Writer John le Carré partially based his famous George Smiley character on a friend, the Lincoln College tutor and Oxford University don, the Reverend Vivian Green. Smiley was also based on le Carré's boss at Mi5, Lord Clanmorris, who wrote crime novels under the pseudonym of John Bingham.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Sir Alec Guinness's first major television role in a series. Guinness had predominantly worked in film bar a few TV movies.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

John le Carré based the character of Bill Haydon (played by Ian Richardson) on Cambridge Five double-agent Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page