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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 

In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced out of semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet Agent within MI6's echelons.
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Episodes

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Years



1  
1979  
Top Rated TV #186 | Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 4 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
Alec Guinness ...  George Smiley 7 episodes, 1979
Michael Jayston ...  Peter Guillam 7 episodes, 1979
Anthony Bate ...  Sir Oliver Lacon / ... 7 episodes, 1979
George Sewell ...  Mendel 7 episodes, 1979
Bernard Hepton ...  Toby Esterhase 5 episodes, 1979
Ian Richardson ...  Bill Haydon 5 episodes, 1979
Hywel Bennett ...  Ricki Tarr 5 episodes, 1979
Terence Rigby ...  Roy Bland 4 episodes, 1979
Ian Bannen ...  Jim Prideaux 4 episodes, 1979
Michael Aldridge ...  Percy Alleline 4 episodes, 1979
Alec Sabin Alec Sabin ...  Fawn 4 episodes, 1979
Alexander Knox ...  Control 3 episodes, 1979
Duncan Jones Duncan Jones ...  Roach 3 episodes, 1979
Daniel Beecher Daniel Beecher ...  Spikely 3 episodes, 1979
Beryl Reid ...  Connie Sachs 2 episodes, 1979
John Wells John Wells ...  Headmaster 2 episodes, 1979
Frank Compton Frank Compton ...  Bryant 2 episodes, 1979
Frank Moorey Frank Moorey ...  Lauda Strickland 2 episodes, 1979
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Storyline

George Smiley has been retired for about a year when he finds a friend from the Circus, his old outfit in British Intelligence, sitting in his living room. He is taken to the home of an advisor to the Prime Minister on intelligence matters, where he finds evidence that one of the men in the senior ranks of his old agency is a Russian spy. Smiley is asked to find him, without official access to any of the files in the Circus or letting on that anyone is under suspicion. With only a few old friends, his own powers of deduction, and secrecy as weapons, Smiley must unearth the spy who turned him out of the Circus. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Who can spy on the spies? See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | Czech | Russian

Release Date:

24 May 1981 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

König, Dame, As, Spion See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (7 parts)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John le Carré based the character of Bill Haydon (Ian Richardson) on Cambridge Five double agent Harold Adrian Russell Philby a.k.a. Kim Philby. See more »

Goofs

In episode 6, when Peter Guillam is testing the taping system at the safe house, he says the recorder is voice-activated, but it doesn't stop turning on his first silent pause, which is much longer than his second and third pauses, when it stops instantly. See more »

Quotes

George Smiley: You heard something about his
[Peter's]
George Smiley: murderous assignment in French North Africa, I suppose?
Mendel: Something. Whispers...
George Smiley: Peter was overmatched and he lost. His agents were hanged. No one recovers entirely from that sort of thing. That is, I wouldn't trust a man who did.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits show a set of Russian matryoshka dolls. One doll opens up to reveal a doll more irate than the other one, and the final doll is seen as being faceless. This was inspired by a line at the end of the "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" novel: "Smiley settled on a picture of one of those little Russian dolls that open up to reveal one inside the other, and another inside him. Of all men living, only Karla had seen the last little doll inside..." See more »

Alternate Versions

The American DVD edition is a syndicated edit comprised of six episodes instead of seven. See more »

Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 BBC Shows (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Nunc Dimittis
Composed by Geoffrey Burgon
Sung by Paul Phoenix and the Boys of the St Paul's Cathedral Choir
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User Reviews

 
By-the-Book
12 April 2005 | by orlowSee all my reviews

There are few movies that follow the book. There is no end to the comment, "The book was so much better." There is good reason for that with some films. "The Lord of the Rings" would have been five movies if you went "by the book". Interesting and enjoyable as that might be for Tolkien fans, it was impossible for film makers. Yet, "Tailor, Tinker, Soldier, Spy" as a movie defies that axiom.

Having read the book and seen the movie more than "several times", they still remain interconnected and indistinguishable. Yes, the book contains more detail, but may details are covered by innuendo, scene or background detail in the movie. Alec Guinness becomes Smiley so completely that his acting gives real meaning to the idea of a "character actor", even down to wiping his glasses with his tie. (you have to read the book for that one.)That is not to say, that Guinness is a robot and the movie is stiff in the name of faithfulness to the book, just the opposite.

The movie dawns the viewer in, just as the book draws in the reader, as part of the process of discovery; unraveling the mystery. As in a true "who done it" (or as one commentator put "who is it"), the viewer has no more foreknowledge than Smiley. You are introduced to all the characters, all have reasons to be the defector, all have reasons to distrust an investigation to the past, yet only one is ferreted-out.

The ending is consistent with the logic of the book and film, but, you still don't expect it. It's anti-climactic yet believable. The film, like to book, leaves one wondering how this could happen. It's thought provoking given many of the suspects comments thought-out the book/film. Both inspire thought more than resolution. The story challenges the reader/viewer to think and think well about the reasons for and purpose of spying as a whole. (The film is more English in cultural orientation, but the concept is universal, as many Americans have learned as well.)

A wonderful book transformed into visual. Great acting through-out, and you really hate all the right people....


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