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Mr. Palfrey of Westminster [DVD] [1984]

34 customer reviews

Price: £11.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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£11.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details Only 5 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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Mr. Palfrey of Westminster [DVD] [1984] + The Sandbaggers: The Complete Series [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Alec McCowen, Caroline Blakiston, Clive Wood
  • Format: PAL, Colour, Full Screen, Mono
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Network
  • DVD Release Date: 16 Aug. 2010
  • Run Time: 600 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003Y3MEG8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,979 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Mr Palfrey is a mild, unassuming middle-aged man the quintessential middle-rank British civil servant, who enjoys a spot of fishing in his spare time. Mr Palfrey is also a spook... As a senior investigator for the Special Intelligence Service, Palfrey s office is based close to the Houses of Parliament. His work is assigned by his female boss, known only as 'the Co-ordinator', and assisting him is Blair, a younger man adept at dealing with the nastier aspects of counter-intelligence. Beginning life as a pilot in Thames' Storyboard anthology and notable for its intelligent, highly credible depiction of Cold War-era counter-espionage, Mr Palfrey of Westminster stars Alec McCowen (Travels with My Aunt) as the meticulous master spycatcher; John Shrapnel, Leslie Phillips, Ronald Hines and Martin Jarvis are among several high-profile actors making guest appearances, and writers include George Markstein (The Prisoner) and Philip Broadley (Public Eye, Department S). This first-time release on DVD comprises both series, originally screened in 1984 and 1985, the Storyboard pilot of 1983, and the 'postscript' play transmitted in 1989 and featuring Clive Wood as Blair.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Prospero77 VINE VOICE on 11 April 2011
Format: DVD
'Pace' is a taken for granted quality in TV drama, invisible, unseen, rarely commented on, but it wasn't until I watched 'Mr Palfrey of Westminster' that I realised how formulaic modern TV drama had become. You know what I'm referring to of course; robbery/incident, opening credits/catchy theme, slow diagnostic twists and turns before final chase/arrest scene.'Palfrey' however, belonged to a time when dramas simply unfolded through dialogue. I remember watching it in the eighties and I'll admit there are one or two anachronisms synonymous with that era. Yet because Palfrey was filmed on crisp, sharp video it has aged remarkably better than contemporary productions like Bergerac or Miss Marple. Every word Alec McCowen utters sounds like it was precision engineered at Oxford, meanwhile his linguistic dexterity is neatly matched by the chess-game plots of secret service traitors and underhand cold war intrigue. The most annoying aspect is that there are only 11 episodes (if you include the 2 supplementary tele-plays). 'Palfrey' has the feel of a good audio book rather than a TV drama but if you liked Smiley you'll love this. Clive Wood makes a superb sidekick and McCowen is first class throughout. A really interesting and careful study which at times is 'quietly brilliant'. There ought to have been many more-shame on Thames Television!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By writingbluebear on 4 Mar. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
When you first watch Mr Palfrey it takes a little time to warm to the cast, but they quickly form into a strong cast with some really entertaining and sharpe story lines. Despite its age the quality of dialog and story still stand out. Return to sender is perhaps the best story, enjoy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Wilson on 20 Nov. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I remembered this from the 80's and unlike some other series that would have been better remembered and not seen again, this was a joy. The sets may have been a bit wobbly but the script was light and there was a decency about this quiet man hunting for background information as well as the indominatable female boss who clearly was modelling herself on the PM Margaret Thatcher. In the best possible way we were left desperate for more but this was an era where ideas were not done to death. If you like your spycatchers to be thoughtful and intuitive, try Mr Palfrey.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Barley Chown on 9 Oct. 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The five stars for the series itself, audio is what it is.What an example this series is how it works like magic when you choose the right actor to play the leading role!You can really witness the long theatre background in every word McGowen lets out of his mouth as he plays the role to perfection.Actually the acting is pretty strong throughout the line, no weak links there.Few of the scripts are pretty basic spy-stuff, but still twisted enough to keep you on the grip.I felt that the female boss came a bit too early to the show,a few more episodes without her presence would have made the trick for me...anyway, great espionage-entertainment and if you liked The Sandbaggers,you`ll probably like this one too.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Andy Jay on 15 Oct. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This was ITV's answer to Tinker, Taylor and possibly introduced the idea of a women as head of the secret service. I enjoyed watching this perhaps because I am of a certain age and remember the time before gadgets became the center for spy stories. Alec McGowen is a very good actor and fits in well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. D. Robinson on 19 Feb. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating view of the public service via spies, sort of. Mr. Palfrey is what you would want for a civil servant. Simple, competent and very capable. This is a great series and I wish it would have went longer. This is one that you will want to watch over and over again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Q on 21 July 2014
Format: DVD
I disagree with those who say this series is unconvincing, or is just second-rate Smiley. Comparisons with Smiley are inevitable but why do we need another Le Carre? The writing, here, is very good and the acting is first-class, especially that of Alec McCowen and Caroline Blakiston. There are, indeed, no guns, gadgets or car-chases, nor any 'action', as such, at all, becuase that's not what this is all about. The subtle interplay between characters, especially Palfrey and 'Gloriana' (a.k.a. the Co-ordinator) is a joy to watch and listen to. I would suggest that 'subtle' is, in fact, the key word, here. This is TV Civil Servants at their best - lighter than Smiley but none the worse for that. There are only 3 discs - 2 series - and once I reached the last disc, I deliberately slowed down, putting off the moment when I would have no further episodes to watch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie De Pue TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 5 Nov. 2013
Format: DVD
MR. PALFREY OF WESTMINSTER: THE COMPLETE SERIES, (1984). This television series concerns a man who describes himself as "just a civil servant," but is secretly a master of counterespionage. Theatrical star Alec McCowen (Travels With My Aunt (Region 2)) plays the titular character, mild-mannered, middle-aged Palfrey, a British spy who hunts down moles in this production recommended for mature audiences. Clive Wood plays Palfrey's junior, Blair; Caroline Blakiston, their boss, the Co-ordinator. The collected spy drama includes all 10 episodes of the series which was seen on PBS in the late 1980s and the 2000s, and has never before been available on DVD. It runs approx. 501 min. on 3 DVDs. Unfortunately, sound - and picture--of this older production are not what we have happily gotten accustomed to these days, and. without subtitles some viewers may have a hard time following it.

To quote Acorn, the episodes are:

Disc 1 (Series 1)
Episode 1: Once Your Card Is Marked
Palfrey's new boss wants him to nail a misfit diplomat whom everyone suspects is spying for the Soviets. But Palfrey believes someone is making the man a scapegoat, and he decides to find out why.

Episode 2: The Honeypot and the Bees
A senior official at the defense ministry is carrying on a clandestine affair with a young woman from Czechoslovakia. When the couple disappears, the Coordinator fears a serious breach in state security.

Episode 3: The Defector
The Coordinator decides to call a press conference announcing the defection of a celebrated Russian author, but Palfrey urges caution.
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