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Smiley's People, BBC full cast audio - Another classy production in the George Smiley series
on 5 July 2010
This is the eighth of the recent BBC radio productions of al John Le Carre's stories featuring master spy George Smiley.
Following the events of `The Honourable Schoolboy', Smiley is now retired. But an old contact is brutally slain, and Smiley is asked by the powers that be to make sure there are no loose ends that could embarrass either the Circus or the British Government. As he trawls through the General's last days and slowly comes to realise just why he was killed, he finds an old adversary at the heart of things, and the opportunity to lay many old ghosts to rest.
Once again this is an admirable bit of writing form Le Carre. Intricately plotted,. With a very real and believable feel. Lacking the glamour of, say, Bond stories, not shing away from the grim and murky realities of life. Smiley lives in a grim and paranoid world, where he cannot trust even those notionally on his own side. The atmosphere is tense and gripping.
As well as the writing, there are a series of fine performances. Simon Russell Beale once again excels as Smiley. His performance is reminiscent of Alec Guinness's, but he manages to put his own stamp quite thoroughly on the role. He shows the ruthlessness of Smiley, along with his regret at doing what has to be done, very convincingly.
The BBC have done a good job at trimming the story down to fit three hours, but without losing too much of the fine detail. I can only compare this to the Guinness TV adaptation, not having read the book, and some detail has been lost but the story is clear and flows well. There is, in addition, a very professional production, with unobtrusive sound effects that nicely help the story and set the scene, but do not detract from the actors performances.
This is an all round excellent production, one which kept m riveted for the duration.
There are three hour long episodes, on three discs in a double size jewel case. There is a limited set of liner notes with cast details and some notes about John Le Carre's career.
Five stars, no hesitation. I also highly recommend all the others in the series to date.