Codename: Kyril (1988)

TV Mini-Series  -  M  -  Drama | Thriller
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A tense tale of Cold War espionage and betrayal. A Russian agent enters England to force a hidden British agent high in the KGB to reveal himself.

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Complete series cast summary:
 Michael Royston (4 episodes, 1988)
 Kyril (4 episodes, 1988)
 'C' (4 episodes, 1988)
 Sculby (4 episodes, 1988)
 Stanov (4 episodes, 1988)
 Povin (4 episodes, 1988)
 Peter Jackson (4 episodes, 1988)
Tor Stokke ...
 Yevchenko (4 episodes, 1988)
 Loshkevoi (3 episodes, 1988)
Espen Skjønberg ...
 Michaelov (3 episodes, 1988)
 Stolynovitch (3 episodes, 1988)
 Carter (3 episodes, 1988)
 Evans (3 episodes, 1988)
Catherine Neilson ...
 Emma (2 episodes, 1988)
Charles Simon ...
 Trumper (2 episodes, 1988)
Terence Harvey ...
 Chairman - Magistrate's Court (2 episodes, 1988)
Geff Francis ...
 Rastafarian (2 episodes, 1988)
 Detective Fitzgerald (2 episodes, 1988)
Anthony Carrick ...
 Head of Staff (2 episodes, 1988)


A tense tale of Cold War espionage and betrayal. A Russian agent enters England to force a hidden British agent high in the KGB to reveal himself. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Thriller






Release Date:

29 March 1988 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Pseudonim Kiryl  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Edward Woodward suffered a heart attack towards the end of filming. Woodward believed it was caused by his grueling schedule of working on The Equalizer (1985) and this series back-to-back. Woodward was written out of one scene and stand-ins were used in some scenes. See more »


Composed by Isaac Albéniz
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User Reviews

Only one Soviet agent?
1 May 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is a British TV espionage mini-series made not long before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Edward Woodward does a very good job of playing Royston, a Soviet mole at the top of the British security services. (The service popularly called M.I.6 is really named S.I.S., but ordinary people never call it that.) Woodward plays the character with just the perfect amount of supercilious arrogance. It used to be easy to spot the moles in Britain because all you had to do was find the most supercilious and arrogant person and that would be him. I once had a long meeting with the Soviet spy Anthony Blunt (1907-1983) to discuss art (which was his ostensible profession), and I never met a more supercilious and arrogant man in my life. He was utterly loathsome. At that time 'nobody knew' about him. But it should have been obvious, in my opinion. The British Foreign Office used to be stuffed so full of Soviet agents that they were as common as raisins in a fruit cake. At least 40 have never been publicly exposed, because of a decision to cover it all up. In fact, if Margaret Thatcher had not been so independent of Establishment advice, Blunt himself would never have been publicly exposed, but she was determined, and she did it. She was probably never told about all the others who had never been named, lest she blow the whole thing. The British Foreign Office has always been home to weird and twisted people. At the beginning of World War II, about a third of the people working there appear to have been Nazi sympathisers who enthusiastically admired Hitler, and who encouraged the idiotic oaf Neville Chamberlain. Nowhere breeds traitors in as great numbers as Britain. It's all that arrogance, you see. So we have here a TV series with only one Soviet agent in M.I. 6, and a great fuss is made about him, as if he were in any way unusual. But then, of course, the public do not know about these things, and they would be too depressed if you told them the truth, so nobody does. (In any case, the 'public' is regarded with such widespread contempt these days by all political leaders that it is clear they do not give a damn what they think. They are just supposed to go on paying their taxes and shut up. Once in a while they are allowed to think they are voting on something, to create the illusion of public participation.) This series is clever in that it also has a British agent near the top of the KGB. Royston is constantly trying to find out who he is, so that he can report him to Moscow. Meanwhile Royston is also trying to prevent himself from being exposed by a KGB man who has been sent on a mission to London to pretend to defect. It is all very complicated, in the best tradition of TV spy series. The KGB man sent to London is played by Ian Charleson, a very fine actor whose greatest role was as Eric Liddell in CHARIOTS OF FIRE (1981, see my review). Charleson died tragically of AIDS at the age of only 40, three years after this series was made, which was a great loss to the cinema, as he was a particularly sympathetic actor. 'C', the head of M.I. 6, is played superbly by Joss Ackland, a character actor of those days who could always be relied upon to do an excellent job in any role with which he was presented. A pawn in this game is a solicitor who is a part-time British spy, and is played by Richard E. Grant. Grant does an excellent job. I would not say that any of the British actors who try to imitate Russian accents are very good at it, because Russians were not on every London street corner gabbling to each as they are today. One of my favourite amusements these days is to tell the Poles from the Russians when I pass them in the street, which is easy to do, actually, but difficult to explain how it is done. The Poles have harder consonants such as the Polish 'c' (which has the force of a dental-sibilant sledgehammer), whereas the Russians are more guttural, throw a lot more saliva about, and simultaneously chew and swallow their sibilants whilst agitating their throats. The actors in this series did not have the benefit of all this Russian chatter which spills all over the contemporary London pavements like a sea of sticky Slavic treacle. John McEnery manages to be suitably weird, but then that did not require acting. Denholm Elliott oozes his usual tentative reassurances laced with existential doubts. Catherine Neilson is very fetching and emotive as Emma the girlfriend of the defector, and her tears and distress do not appear feigned. 'Whatever happened to her?' as they say, since she last acted in 1994. Apparently a much cut-down version of this mini-series has been screened as a stand-alone film, first appearing in 1989. Although it is true that there is a lot of time wasted in the mini-series, and at least 10 to 15 minutes could have been pruned by a good editor with no loss, to cut its 209 minutes down to an hour or 90 minutes would, I believe, make it largely incomprehensible, so that the resultant 'mini-series remnant' of 1989 cannot really be any good, is my guess. This mini-series itself is however a fine example of its genre and of its time.

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