Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

BBC Two (ended 1979)
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  • Episode Guide
  • S 1 : Ep 7

    Flushing Out the Mole

    Aired 10/22/79

  • S 1 : Ep 6

    Smiley Sets a Trap

    Aired 10/15/79

  • S 1 : Ep 5

    Tinker Tailor

    Aired 10/8/79

  • S 1 : Ep 4

    How It All Fits Together

    Aired 10/1/79

  • S 1 : Ep 3

    Smiley Tracks the Mole

    Aired 9/24/79

  • Cast & Crew
  • Alec Guinness

    George Smiley

  • Michael Jayston

    Peter Guillam

  • Michael Aldridge

    Percy Alleline

  • Terence Rigby

    Roy Bland

  • Bernard Hepton

    Toby Esterhase

  • show Description
  • Tinker, tailor,soldier, sailor, Rich man, poor man, beggar-man, thief. George Smiley, the aging master spy of the Cold War and once heir apparent to Control, is brought back out of retirement to flush out a top level mole within the Circus. Smiley must travel back through his life and murky workings of the Circus to unravel the net spun by his nemesis Karla 'The Sandman' of the KGB and reveal the identity of the mole before he disappears.moreless

  • Top Contributor
  • francklloyd

    User Score: 108


  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (34)

    • Control: We have a rotten apple, Jim, and the maggots are eating up the Circus. Prideaux: These people? One of these? Control: Why not? Are the British incapable of deception? We've turned members of other outfits. Russians, Poles, Czechs and the odd American.

    • Martindale: Let's talk about your old boss, Control. The only Head of the Secret Service who kept his name a secret. Shall we talk about Control? Smiley: If you insist. Martindale: Of course, it wasn't a secret to you, was it, George? He never had any secrets from you, his tried and trusted right hand, did he? Smiley: I don't know. That's the point about secrets.

    • Smiley: I have been reviewing my life in this last half hour of hell and I've come to a grave decision. After a lifetime of living by my wits and on my memory, I shall give myself up full-time to the profession of forgetting.

    • Smiley: Why did Lacon send you for me? Guillam: Do you mean why did he send me for you? Or why did he send me for you? Smiley: Quite right, Peter. I should have known better than to have asked.

    • Martindale: My love to Ann, George. Everybody's love to Ann, George.

    • Boris: You think we Russians disapprove of comfort. No, you're wrong, that's the Chinese. All miserable boiler suits and the smallest comfort for the biggest number.

    • Ricki: I've got quite a name for looking after myself. I'm your original Australian self-made success story. Rags to richess and punching all the way. Bureaucrats don't scare me, not even the Russian kind.

    • Irina: It's the way we look for things, isn't it? We don't stare. We don't seem to be looking. We are not like tourists or prostitutes or pickpockets. We just know how to see.

    Show More Quotes

    Notes (6)

    • Three weeks into filming, Alec Guinness panicked and asked to be replaced. He suggested Arthur Lowe for the role of Smiley.

    • The end title song, Song of Simeon, was sung by Paul Phoenix, who was uncredited at the time of first broadcast. The lyrics are based on the Gospel of Luke, Chapter II, verses 29-32.

    • Shortly before filming for the first episode began, Alec Guinness asked for a meeting with Sir Maurice Oldfield, a real senior British intelligence agent, and for the role of George Smiley he later copied many of the details of Sir Maurice's mannerisms and appearance.

    • The Circus is a nickname for the British Secret Intelligence Service supposedly located at Cambridge Circus in London.

    • This episode contains Patrick Stewart's only appearance in the entire series. Although he plays a major character in the plot, he doesn't utter one word in his long scene with Alec Guinness.

    • At the Thursgood Chapel Jumbo Roach reads Chapter 41 from Genesis.

    Show More Notes

    Trivia (2)

    • When Smiley interviews Ricki Tarr in this episode, he is wearing bright orange tanned leather shoes, which were one of the details Alec Guinness had picked up from a meeting with a real spy (see Notes).

    • Smiley's Chelsea house, first seen in this episode, is at 9, Bywater Street, London SW3. The location filming, both inside and outside the house, was done at the real number 10, Bywater Street.

    Allusions (3)

    • Smiley: (paying too much for a book) Barabas was a bookseller. Smiley probably does not refer to the biblical Barabas, but to the main character in Marlowe's The Jew of Malta (1589), a greedy merchant.

    • Haydon: This is a Callot, isn't it? Bill Haydon recognises an etching by Jacques Callot (c. 1592 - 1635), a baroque printmaker and draftsman from the Duchy of Lorraine.

    • Prideax: We don't want them swiping the Alvis. It's irreplaceable, thanks to socialism. Alvis cars were produced in Britain from 1919 until 1967. The company was purchased by British Leyland, which itself was partly nationalised in 1975.

  • Fan Reviews (2)
  • Alec Guinness plays Le Carre's George Smiley to a tea (albeit a good old english tea). All though the cold war has ended, this brillant British espionage thriller will never date. Look out for Patrick Stewart as the little touched on villan Karla.

    By Andy_158, Oct 30, 2007

  • A great British television show.

    By vicmackey31, Apr 22, 2006