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due to disagreements with the producers during the making of the film, the commercial rights for the series were withdrawn by Len Deighton, meaning the series - and its many North West locations - haven't ever been broadcast again on British TV, or released on DVD.
The great writers of the cold war played out in the two Berlins, were Deighton and Le Carre. Both understood well the cold war dynamics focused on the divided Berlin. To me who visited the divided city and crossed the Wall into East Berlin, and witnessed the stark contrasts between the two halves of Berlin, Deighton is a better expert with his analyses of the power play, and well linked the neighbouring Soviet bloc countries which contributed the cold war dynamics. As exemplified by the Bernard Samson series.ReplyDelete
The above two authors were dealing with a niche topic where subtle Soviet, British and American intelligence agencies’ maneuvres were involved, which was hard to depict in a film unlike the action packed Bond films. Le Carre understood about the need for agreeing to TV Smiley TV series, and thus cemented his place as the well known cold war expert. Deighton on the other,hand, although the better cold war expert, was sidelined, and remained relatively not that known to the generation that followed us-who went to universities in late 1950s, read Bond ,novels and then novels of LeCarre and Deighton when they were first published.
The following extract explains why Deighton remains relatively not known except in a generation like mine. It is a pity.
“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”
My apologies for some typos and bad narration in the above post. I posted it in a hurry, when at last I realised ( thanks to the quote I focused in the above article), why Deighton's Samson's series was not made into a very successful TV series-it was crying out for a visual series then . If that had happened, would have been more watchable than the more docile Smiley TV series, as Deighton through his superior narrative quality, better cold war spy craft scenarios with actions and scenarios involving the 2 Berlins, Poland, London and the England countryside with a clever overlay of the machinations of the British intelligence service.ReplyDelete
Ian Fleming’s immediate WWII settings in the Bond novels, followed the cold war setting focused on the 2 Berlins, which Deighton, more than Le Carre, well exploited in weaving his narrative to the last days of the Berlins’ divide. That was superb for us, who became Deighton’s fans, after finishing with Ian Fleming. For my generation, particularly for me, who visited both Berlins in the Cold war period, focused by Deighton in the Samson’s series, the absence of a TV series has been very disappointing, in the light of what is reported in the above article.