When a crusade against the Church of England's practice of self-enrichment misfires, scandal taints the cozy community of Barchester when their local church becomes the object of a scathing, investigative report.
Bernard Samson is an aging British spy, who was once at the top of his game. He led his own spy team in East Germany from Berlin. Everything changed when he lost a team member and he's been blaming himself for it ever since. He now works behind the desk with a team of young highly educated spies, who've never seen a day of action. When evidence of a Russian mole within their ranks appear, he's asked once again to return to Berlin and use his experience and old contacts to help catch the traitor.
Others have done an excellent job summarising this fine mini-series, so I won't bother going into details. I did want to mention that, on a BBS devoted to Len Deighton's work, it was mentioned (although not independently verified) that it was indeed Deighton who kept the series from going to tape (or any other subsequent medium) because of his displeasure with its realisation (stupid temperamental writers!).
It was only by chance that I learned about the series the morning of the day the first episode was to air (unlike one of the other reviewers, I knew Ian Holm very well, first from Alien, and I just happened to notice his picture in the paper in an article previewing the series). I had the foresight to tape it, but missed getting the post-first-episode interview with Ian Holm (tape ran out), which I kick myself for to this very day.
I'm sure I'm not alone in stating that this series NEEDS to be on DVD, but until Deighton dies, this probably won't happen (and I am completely mystified as to what it was he objected to - the series brought every one of the characters to vivid, realistic life, was incredibly (though not slavishly) true to the books, and so enthralled me that I went out and bought all of Deighton's spy novels, even though I'd never read one before). Until then, those of us with tapes will continue to set aside 13 hours every year or so to enjoy this incredibly well-produced, well-acted, and well-told story, hoping each year as the tapes slowly corrode that Deighton will have a change (or massive infarction) of heart and let us have this series in all its glory on DVD...
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