Friday 14 January 2011

...Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief?

Fascinating article in today's Guardian newspaper, looking back on the DVD boxset of the seminal BBC spy series Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. This adaptation famously starred the late Alec Guinness as spy hunter George Smiley, tracking down the mole at the heart of the 'Circus' (for that, read 'London Central' in Deighton's Game, Set and Match series - the heart of MI6).

It was arguably a defining series in the depiction of the Cold War in popular culture and certainly helped fix author John Le Carré in the canon of spy fiction writers. As reviewer Toby Manning notes, the series is very British and perfectly captures an old school MI:6 before the Internet and Islamic terrorism: "a clutch of pipe-smoking, snobbish, sniggering schoolboys, repressed homosexuality seething through grey strip-lit corridors".

Definitely a series I'd welcome another run at.

As the article points out, the Hollywood remake machine has this cracking drama in its sights: actor Gary Oldman is tasked with taking over the role of the crabby, ageing but ruthless spy-catcher Riley. With Quentin Tarantino's suggestion last year of a remake of Game, Set and Match - not since elaborated on since, of course - perhaps the timing of the Tinker remake points to that fact that sufficient time has lapsed since the Cold War ended for some of the great stories to be revisited and re-imagined for the modern audiences.

Funeral in Berlin? Re-made.

The blood chills.

The classics, I'm afraid, are rarely improved upon.

But, we'll wait and see. What do you think?


  1. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy cannot be improved upon. And why a remake at all? The BBC series captures the spirit of the times like no modern remake possibly can. I hate these remakes that purport to speak to modern audiences when in fact all they do is dilute and weaken the original impulse.

  2. It took a six hour series to get Tinker Tailor right. How does anyone think you can do it justice in a two hour film? Although the cast seems stellar, I have some serious reservations about this one.