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Smiley's People (1982)

TV Mini-Series  |   |  Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 8.7/10 from 2,404 users  
Reviews: 35 user | 9 critic

Called out of retirement to settle the affairs of a friend, Smiley finds his old organization, the Circus, so overwhelmed by political considerations that it doesn't want to know what ... See full summary »

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Nominated for 3 Primetime Emmys. Another 4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Series cast summary:
 George Smiley (6 episodes, 1982)
 Madame Ostrakova (4 episodes, 1982)
 Lauder Strickland (4 episodes, 1982)
Vladek Sheybal ...
 Otto Leipzig / ... (4 episodes, 1982)
Andy Bradford ...
 Ferguson (4 episodes, 1982)
Bernard Hepton ...
 Toby Esterhase (3 episodes, 1982)
 Peter Guillam (3 episodes, 1982)
Anthony Bate ...
 Oliver Lacon (3 episodes, 1982)
Tusse Silberg ...
 Alexandra Ostrakova (3 episodes, 1982)
Germaine Delbat ...
 Madame La Pierre (3 episodes, 1982)


Called out of retirement to settle the affairs of a friend, Smiley finds his old organization, the Circus, so overwhelmed by political considerations that it doesn't want to know what happened. He begins to follow up the clues of his friends past days, discovering that the clues lead to a high person in the Russian Secret service, and a secret important enough to kill for. Smiley continues to put together the pieces a step ahead or a step behind the Russian killers. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Mystery


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Release Date:

25 October 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Agent in eigener Sache  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(6 parts)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Simon Langton was brought in to direct the serial after Alec Guinness demanded a change of directors because the initially assigned director had a reputation for bullying actors. See more »


Saul Enderby: Well, why doesn't he dig up his treasure? Put it somewhere else and cover his traces? The shit's in the fan, he knows that, Kirov's confessed!
George Smiley: Perhaps the treasure refuses to be moved. Perhaps Karla's options have run out.
Saul Enderby: It's daylight madness to leave that Swiss bank account intact!
George Smiley: It was daylight madness to use a fool like Kirov. It was madness to approach Ostrakova, and madness to believe that by killing three people he could stop the leak.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The wooden planks in the opening credits are those of park benches. See more »


Follows The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) See more »

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User Reviews

More problematic than Tinker Tailor, but still wonderful.
9 June 2005 | by (Illinois) – See all my reviews

The merits of Alec Guinness's Smiley are familiar to anyone who has seen this wonderful BBC adaptation of LeCarré's great 'Karla' trilogy of books..well, two of the books anyway. Sadly they skipped over 'The Honourable Schoolboy' arguably the most exciting of the three.

Both 'Tinker Tailor' and 'Smiley's People' have their casting mishaps but nothing that detracts in any important way. I found Eileen Atkins' Ostrakova to be wildly miscast, physically, but masterfully acted, so she gets a pass. Michael Byrne's Guillam is an improvement over his predecessor in 'Tinker Tailor' but his part is so small that it hardly registers. Beryl Reid's scene as Connie Sachs is longer than her scene in 'Tinker Tailor' but still woefully short of the involved and fascinating scene in the book. It is in regards to Sachs and Jerry Westerby that I deeply regret the BBC not making 'The Honourable Schoolboy.' Reid would have been fabulous in that role, though still not nearly fat or tall enough to wear the original Connie's shoes.

Generally the actors are superb. There is an especially moving and unforgettable performance from Tulle Silberg as Alexandra Ostrakova. Her scene with Smiley is deeply touching and it is easy to understand why Smiley does what he does in the end. I won't say any more to avoid a spoiler.

'Smiley's People' is not as riveting as 'Tinker Tailor' I think because I found the first mini- series, focusing on the inner workings of the Circus, to be far more interesting than the foreign "outside" locations in 'Smiley's People.' But that's just me. I still love this film and watch it often.

Don't miss the Smiley series! The BBC will never make anything like it again, on the evidence of the mediocre bilge they've been catting up in recent years.

32 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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