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The murder of a Soviet defector forces his old handler, British spymaster George Smiley, out of retirement. His investigation leads to an old nemesis, the Soviet spymaster known only as Karla. This will be their final dance.
Despite their protestations ITV are not known for their sit-coms. It is usually a mirth fee zone but every now and then a gem is discovered and Shelly is a bona fide, premium grade comedy classic.
Hywel Bennett plays the over educated professional layabout Shelley whose mission in life is to avoid work and muse about life. It was anti establishment and anti Tory which gave it a political edge.
It had sharp writing and funny without resorting to knockabout comedy. In Hywel Bennett they found the perfect actor. Bennett was someone who was a rising star in the late 1960s but problems in his personal life meant he hit skid row in the early 70s and was out of the limelight until the late 1970s.
Shelley established him back to the forefront, he might had looked older and less baby faced than before but still attractive enough to make Shelley appealing enough to women and an everyman philosopher without turning to bombast.
Later series had to deal with issues when his screen wife left the show and had him musing to a tape recorder to his daughter now relocated to Canada. Some years later Shelly returned in new episodes, more wiser, more cynical but still funny as ever. A lasting tribute to Hywel Bennett.
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