George Smiley is one of the most brilliantly realised characters in British fiction. Bespectacled, tubby, eternally middle-aged and deceptively ordinary, he has a mind like a steel trap and is said to possess ‘the cunning of Satan and the conscience of a virgin’. When word reaches 'The Department' - an ailing section of British intelligence - that Soviet missiles are being installed close to the West German border, it seems the perfect opportunity to show Control and Smiley, their rivals over at the Circus, that The Department still has value. Former spy Fred Leiser is lured back from retirement to investigate, and manages to cross the border into East Germany in a dangerous night-time operation. But the world has changed since The Department's glory days during the Second World War. The harsh realities of the Cold War now prevail, and there is no place for heroes... Starring the award-winning Simon Russell Beale as Smiley, and with a distinguished cast including Ian McDiarmid and Philip Jackson, this compelling dramatisation perfectly captures the atmosphere of le Carré's chilling novel of deception and betrayal.
John le Carré’s suspense-filled drama The Little Drummer Girl hits TV screens later this year. Here's your first look at the production that includes industry heavyweights Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Shannon.
In this extract from The Pigeon Tunnel, John le Carré describes the accusations of disloyalty he faced from former Secret Service colleagues - and how Alec Guinness used them in his portrayal of George Smiley