In 1965, Adam Hall ( Elleston Trevor ) wrote 'The Quiller Memorandum', in which a British secret agent goes to Berlin to investigate the death of Kenneth Lindsay Jones, who had uncovered a Nazi revivalist group known as 'Phonix'. This highly acclaimed book was filmed a year later by Michael Anderson, with George Segal as 'Quiller', Alec Guinness as his superior 'Pol', Senta Berger as 'Inga', and Max Von Sydow as 'Oktober'. The screenplay was by Harold Pinter, and it remains one of the more intelligent and well-acted spy thrillers of that era.
Nearly a decade later, the B.B.C. bought the rights to the character, and assigned as producer Peter Graham Scott, producer of 'The Troubleshooters'. 'Quiller' had all the makings of a smash hit. Starring the talented Michael Jayston in the title role, with Moray Watson as his boss 'Angus', it was to have boasted exotic locations, big-name guest stars, scripts by leading writers such as Michael J.Bird ( Hall himself wrote an episode based on one of his books - 'Tango Briefing' ), beautiful girls, and a catchy Denton & Cook signature tune. But something went wrong.
Interviewed for 'Shatter' magazine in 1976, Brian Clemens said budgetary cutbacks at the B.B.C. resulted in 'Quiller' looking a bit shabby. He wrote an episode set in South America, but without his knowledge it was filmed in Hastings. "Had I known they'd film in Hastings, I'd have set it in Hastings.", he said.
Quiller himself came across as somewhat colourless. Earlier spy shows such as 'Danger Man' and 'Mission: Impossible' also featured ciphers as heroes, but 'Quiller' was made in the mid-'70's when, in the wake of 'Callan', audiences wanted their spies a bit more human. A second season might have corrected the first's flaws, but it was not to get one. To date, the show has not had a D.V.D. release.
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