'"Cheer up, Werner. It will soon be Christmas," I said.'
Thursday, 23 December 2021
'"Cheer up, Werner. It will soon be Christmas," I said.'
Thursday, 7 October 2021
|View over Southwark|
But as someone born in London, who lived there during much of his early life until his career as an author really took off, he might appreciate a blue plaque there in his name.
The Southwark Blue Plaque scheme is currently seeking support for nominees for recipients to honour those who've lived in and contributed to the London Borough.
One of the nominees is Len Deighton, who lived in a flat in Southwark during the sixties and wrote many of his books while resident in the borough.
Dossier readers are welcome to add their support for the nomination.
Thursday, 30 September 2021
Today I've received in the post a further five books from the Penguin Modern Classics editions, which have been dropping onto booksellers shelves throughout 2021.
The latest editions are:
- Yesterday's Spy
- Spy Story
- Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Spy
- An Expensive Place to Die.
The bold cover designs by Richard Green continue to be visually interesting - each book features the Ray Hawkey-inspired chevron motif linking back to his original Penguin covers from the 1960s, with some bold colour choices, each too with the 'dot matrix' B&W photo pointing to the themes explored in the novels.
The cover of Yesterday's Spy bold, with its bold white cover, hints at a nod to the original Hawkey first edition covers for the unnamed spy stories in the 'sixties, which for the time were groundbreaking in their use of white on the dustcovers, which was traditionally avoided by book designers due to its propensity to show the dirt, where customers for example picked them up to browse.
There are a few more still to come out later in the autumn, including Goodbye Mickey Mouse and City of Gold.
I've been very impressed with Penguin's approach and its readiness to go all-in on the design motif that connects each and every book being republished and honours the company's long standing connection to the author. They've evidently taken a lot of time and care over each edition, which no doubt will help with attracting new readers to the novels.
Saturday, 7 August 2021
I recently did some searching of various newspaper archives and found this interesting article from the Daily Mirror newspaper from late in 1987, during the filming of the Granada TV mini-series Game, Set and Match, based on the three Len Deighton novels of the same name (which was broadcast in Autumn 1988).
Famously, it recounts how - given that the Berlin Wall still existed at the time, and filming behind the Wall was, unsurprisingly, not allowed - the producers had to improvise when filming the many scenes requiring actor Ian Holm (as Bernard) and others to be in Eastern Europe.
For the scenes in Gdansk Railway Station, Manchester's Victoria Station (now majorly different in layout) stood in, thanks to the addition of some Polish signage and Eastern Bloc cars.
For example, Bolton Town Hall stood in for Gdansk, in the scene where Bernard goes behind the Iron Curtain to meet with Yuri Rostov to seek his defection, the failure of which leads Bernard to flee Eastern Europe via an escape across the wall (a scene which is told in flashback in the books, but which provides the opening scenes in the TV mini series that provide a context for explaining Bernard Samson's position back in London Central, desk-bound.
Other filming was done in and around the North West (the series was produced by Granada TV, the regional commercial TV station in England which formed part of the ITV network). For instance, the village of Great Budworth near Northwich stood in for Cosham (which is actually on the south coast of England in the books), for the scene where Bernard and Werner discover the body of McKenzie in the departmental safe house, left there by Erich Stinnes, who is seeking to undermine Samson's position within London Central by pinning the murder on him.
The two-page article from the Daily Mirror, which explores other aspects of the production (including the filming in West Berlin and Mexico), was part of the pre-launch publicity around the series which, despite Granada TV's largest drama budget up to that point, ultimately failed to prove the smash hit that was expected. Famously, due to disagreements with the producers during the making of the film, the commercial rights for the series were withdrawn by Len Deighton, meaning the series - and its many North West locations - haven't ever been broadcast again on British TV, or released on DVD.
Sunday, 16 May 2021
Things are relatively quiet with respect to news about Deighton's books - now that the Penguin editions are starting to roll out - but there are still the odd article relating to the author and his works for readers to be aware of.
In The New Statesman (a UK-based, broadly left-of-centre magazine), journalist John Gray has written a profile style piece called Len Deighton and the mundanity of spies. If you can look past the odd spelling error (sub-editors failed to correct a reference to 'Leighton'), then it's worthwhile giving it a read, as the writer compares Deighton's spy thrillers with other classic characters and stories from Maugham and Fleming and others.
Earlier in the month, in The Observer, Deighton's son Alex - who has been co-authoriting the most recent cookstrips in the magazine with his father (now, sadly, at an end), discusses with the interviewer the recent launch of the new Penguin Modern Classics editions, and his father's continued legacy of books being enjoyed by new generations of readers.
Saturday, 13 March 2021
Last year, it was announced that Penguin had secured the paperback writes to Len Deighton's fiction and non-fiction output, and would publish them under its Penguin Modern Classics imprint.
The first cover images for the initial releases in the series have been released, and they look mightily impressive, based on those available so far (all the books are available for pre-order, but not all covers have been shared yet).
The overall look and feel has been created by Penguin's Art Director Tony Stoddart, and what is immediately apparently is how his overall feel seems to make passing references to previous Penguin film tie-in editions from the sixties, with the famous covers featuring Michael Caine as Harry Palmer, which were designed by Len Deighton's long-time collaborator, Raymond Hawkey.
Take a look, and see what you think.
|Funeral in Berlin 2021, designed by Tony Stoddart|
|Funeral in Berlin 1966, designed by Ramond Hawkey|
Friday, 26 February 2021
As a collector of Len Deighton's output (along with a couple of other authors) for a number of decades, through talking to dealers, scouring second-hand book shops and trawling online sites like ABEBooks, I've got a pretty good idea of what the market is:
- Which books are rare
- How often the crop up in the market
- What represents good value
Friday, 1 January 2021
|The new Harry Palmer. What, no glasses?|
Before Christmas, ITV delivered a Christmas present for Deighton fans, of sorts.
A new six-part TV series based on The Ipcress File novel is planned for broadcast this year, with a new younger cast recreating Len Deighton's first novel - reimagining, perhaps, given the fabled original movie starring Michael Caine is so well known.
The part made famous by Michael Caine will be played by young British actor Joe Cole, who's most famous for his role in BBC 1's Peaky Blinders historical drama. He'll be joined by actress Lucy Boynton - who one imagines will play Jean - and also Tom Hollander. Further details are awaited about the series but the signs in the ITV press release are relatively positive.
With six parts, presumably an hour long, the producers should have more time for character development and to visit more parts of the books - including those in the Pacific - which were excised from the original cinema version.
Potentially, too, they have the option to explore more of Harry Palmer's back story - the producers are sticking with the name created for the film, given the brand value of doing so - particularly his criminal acts within the army in Berlin which originally landed him with Colonel Ross in W.O.O.C.(P).
Of course, any series based on a book from the 'sixties will inevitably be 'updated' and made 'relevant', but as long as it's not egregious or doesn't get in the way of telling the story, such things are forgiveable.
Still, it should be fun, and I wait to see with interest whether it can hold its ground with the original.
Now, some better 2021 New Year news would be to hear that Clerkenwell Films - holders of the TV rights for all nine Bernard Samson books - has, having held the rights for over five years - announced plans to start filming the series.
But, maybe we have to wait for April Fool's Day for that announcement.
What do other readers think - good idea or not, the Ipcress update?