Originally transmitted in 1988, Codename Kyril is a well crafted spy story that boasts a quality cast, headed by Edward Woodward and Ian Charleson.
This release by Network is of the original two part mini-series, with a running time of 210 minutes. It would have been interesting to also have had the cut-down TV movie edit on a second disc, as it is true that the opening hour or so does drag a little.
This is partly down to the lack of Edward Woodward, whose contribution to part one is relatively minor - whereas he dominates the story in part two. And once Woodward takes centre stage then the story moves up several gears. Ian Charleson, best known for Chariots of Fire is the other main character and his understated performance contrasts well with the steel of Woodward.
In Moscow, Marshall Stanov (Peter Vaughan) has come to the conclusion that there is a traitor inside Moscow Centre, leaking information to the British. He sends his most trusted agent, Ivan Bucharensky (Ian Charleson) to the West, with orders to pose as a double-agent in order to smoke out the mole. MI6's top agent, Royston (Edward Woodward) is ordered to locate Bucharensky, codenamed Kyril, and establish if he is a genuine defector, and also find out what Kyril knows about the mole working inside Moscow Centre. But Royston has his own agenda, and he isn't the only one ....
The screenplay for Codename Kyril was by John Hopkins, adapted from John Trenhaile's 1981 novel The Man Called Kyril. Hopkins had a lengthy and impressive career, being responsible for the screenplays of major films such as Thunderball (1965) and The Offense (1972) as well as prestigious tv serials like John Le Carre's Smiley's People (1982). He was able to take the complicated story, where nothing is quite as it seems, and transfer it well to the screen.
With unmissable central performances from Woodward and Charleson and a first-rate supporting cast, including Joss Ackland, Peter Vaughan, Denholm Elliot and Hugh Fraser, this is a classy cold-war yarn that grips all the way until the final shock revelation.