When casting this drama ITV, in a casting coup, were determind to get Alec Guinness to reprise the role of George Smiley. For once the character of George Smiley isn't investigating spies or dark state secrets but the mysterious death and goings on at a private school where an old friend of his now works. ITV certainly assembled a very strong cast for the film, Ronald Pickup, Glenda Jackson, Joss Ackland and in one of her earliest, and most revealing roles, Samantha Janus.
Unfortunately they couldn't persuade Guinness to reprise part and cast Denholm Elliot instead.
While unable to convey the sad and sweet blankness that Guinness brought to the character Elliot instead plays Smiley as a seedier, angrier man. The bitterness on the surface. A man determind to find the truth, no matter what the cost.
Performances from all the cast are excellent. Ronald Pickup is especially good and Samantha Janus is sweet in this early performance.
It's only the story, a simple tale of murder and betrayal that is the problem. It is slighter and less complex tale than audiences expected. So unlike 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' and 'Smiley's People' it is largely forgotten.
However fans of Le Carre and such murder mystery series as 'Midsomer Murders' and 'Inspector Morse' will find much to enjoy here.