More classic drama for BBC Four

BBC Four has announced the next set of landmark BBC TV programmes from the archive that will play every Wednesday at 10pm.

As part of the weekly slot dedicated to exclusive screenings of classic dramas to celebrate the BBC’s centenary year, the network continues to feature bespoke introductions from key people involved in the productions.

Affirming BBC Four’s position as a destination to discover the most distinctive content from the BBC’s rich archive, programmes coming up include The Roads To Freedom, which will play on the BBC for the first time since the 1970s. The seminal drama based on novels by Jean-Paul Sartre will air on Wednesday 27 July and will be introduced by Colin Baker, who, in his first TV appearance, played Claude.

In addition, BBC Four has announced additional archive gems that will air later this year, many of which haven’t been seen on BBC network television for several years. They include Dennis Potter’s musical The Singing Detective, the BBC adaptation of Richard Llewellyn’s How Green Was My Valley and the drama adaptation of John Le Carre’s classic story Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – plus, in the year of the novel’s 90th anniversary, the 1970s series from BBC Scotland, Sunset Song, with introductions from Vivien Heilbron and Moira Armstrong,

Previously announced programmes on BBC Four that celebrate the BBC centenary coming up include the landmark coming-of-age drama set in South London in the 1970s Buddha Of Surburbia with an introduction from Hanif Kureishi; the 1956 early television exploration of the difficulties faced by West Indian immigrants in Britain, A Man From The Sun; Our Friends In The North, the drama about four friends from Newcastle-upon-Tyne which includes an introduction from Christopher Eccleston, and The Billy Plays, which was part of the BBC’s Play For Today series.

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One thought on “More classic drama for BBC Four

  1. Do watch Tinker Tailor again and if you love all things JLC read this non-promotional anecdote about real spies and authors from the espionage genre whether you’re a le Carré connoisseur, a Deighton disciple, a Fleming fanatic, a Herron hireling or a Macintyre marauder. If you don’t love all such things you might learn something so read on! It’s a must read for espionage cognoscenti.

    As Kim Philby (codename Stanley) and KGB Colonel Oleg Gordievsky (codename Sunbeam) would have told you in their heyday, there is one category of secret agent that is often overlooked … namely those who don’t know they have been recruited. For more on that topic we suggest you read Beyond Enkription (explained below) and a recent article on that topic by the ex-spook Bill Fairclough. The article can be found at TheBurlingtonFiles website in the News Section. The article (dated July 21, 2021) is about “Russian Interference”; it’s been read well over 20,000 times.

    Now talking of Gordievsky, John le Carré described Ben Macintyre’s fact based novel, The Spy and The Traitor, as “the best true spy story I have ever read”. It was of course about Kim Philby’s Russian counterpart, a KGB Colonel named Oleg Gordievsky, codename Sunbeam. In 1974 Gordievsky became a double agent working for MI6 in Copenhagen which was when Bill Fairclough aka Edward Burlington unwittingly launched his career as a secret agent for MI6. Fairclough and le Carré knew of each other: le Carré had even rejected Fairclough’s suggestion in 2014 that they collaborate on a book. As le Carré said at the time, “Why should I? I’ve got by so far without collaboration so why bother now?” A realistic response from a famous expert in fiction in his eighties!

    Philby and Gordievsky never met Fairclough, but they did know Fairclough’s handler, Colonel Alan McKenzie aka Colonel Alan Pemberton CVO MBE. It is little wonder therefore that in Beyond Enkription, the first fact based novel in The Burlington Files espionage series, genuine double agents, disinformation and deception weave wondrously within the relentless twists and turns of evolving events. Beyond Enkription is set in 1974 in London, Nassau and Port au Prince. Edward Burlington, a far from boring accountant, unwittingly started working for Alan McKenzie in MI6 and later worked eyes wide open for the CIA.

    What happens is so exhilarating and bone chilling it makes one wonder why bother reading espionage fiction when facts are so much more breathtaking. The fact based novel begs the question, were his covert activities in Haiti a prelude to the abortion of a CIA sponsored Haitian equivalent to the Cuban Bay of Pigs? Why was his father Dr Richard Fairclough, ex MI1, involved? Richard was of course a confidant of British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, who became chief adviser to JFK during the Cuban missile crisis.

    Len Deighton and Mick Herron could be forgiven for thinking they co-wrote the raw noir anti-Bond narrative, Beyond Enkription. Atmospherically it’s reminiscent of Ted Lewis’ Get Carter of Michael Caine fame. If anyone ever makes a film based on Beyond Enkription they’ll only have themselves to blame if it doesn’t go down in history as a classic espionage thriller.

    By the way, the maverick Bill Fairclough had quite a lot in common with Greville Wynne (famous for his part in helping to reveal Russian missile deployment in Cuba in 1962) and has also even been called “a posh Harry Palmer”. As already noted, Bill Fairclough and John le Carré (aka David Cornwell) knew of each other but only long after Cornwell’s MI6 career ended thanks to Kim Philby shopping all Cornwell’s supposedly secret agents in Europe. Coincidentally, the novelist Graham Greene used to work in MI6 reporting to Philby and Bill Fairclough actually stayed in Hôtel Oloffson during a covert op in Haiti (explained in Beyond Enkription) which was at the heart of Graham Greene’s spy novel The Comedians. Funny it’s such a small world!

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