Sometimes I wonder why certain programs are made at all. Filmed at the old Electric Cinema in Portobello Road, AL MURRAY'S GREAT British SPY MOVIES has the comedian presenting a leisurely survey of familiar material, ranging from THE IPCRESS FILE and THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD to the James Bond canon, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY and SOME GIRLS DO. He enlists the assistance of Stella Rimington, the former director of MI5, Matt Forde (a comedian), and Matthew Sweet - the catch-all film expert who always seems to appear on this kind of program.
They all appear to be having a good time, but there are some inevitable disagreements: Rimington seems to prefer the more downbeat movies such as THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, while Forde favors the Bond canon, even though realizing that it bears little or no relationship to what the spy's life might be. Sweet chips in with a few comments about the relationship between such films and British identity, but one gets the feeling that such comments would have been far better suited to an historical documentary, rather than the extended chat-show that constitutes the format of this program.
The experience of looking at clips from old movies offers some incidental pleasures, but one can't escape the feeling that programs like this are particularly pointless, neither telling us much about the films nor giving the guests much opportunity to show their knowledge of the genre. It is the kind of celebrity-led piece that might attract viewers, but with little other apparent purpose.
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