Friday, 12 February 2016

"Thrilling tale of Nasty Nazis" ....

... is a very Daily Mail headline sub-editor sort of way to say that they think SS-GB is going to be quite good!

There's a nice piece in today's Daily Mail today about upcoming TV dramas this year, and it includes a short review of SS-GB, the Sid Gentle Films production of Deighton's great alternative history novels about Douglas Archer, London detective working for the SS in a Nazi-occupied Britain.

The preview highlights the Bond pedigree of the writers behind the script, Purvis and Wade. Expect more 'this summer's highlights' articles to come in coming months, as we look forward to the first Deighton TV adaptation since 1988's Granada TV production of Game, Set and Match.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

There's a bloody Spitfire in the Mall ....

No royals were harmed in the production of this series
Ah. It's only a prop from the exterior filming associated with the Sid Gentle Films production of SS-GB, which is evidently making good progress and generating a little bit of good PR for the series. This article in a recent Daily Mail shows extras dressed as German troops and a Spitfire which has landed on the Mall. It has a new quote from the actor playing Douglas Archer, Sam Riley:
"Archer is a compelling and complex character. He is a good guy struggling to reconcile his job as a policeman within the repressive Nazi machine"

Saturday, 2 January 2016

The Ipcress File is seventh best spy movie of all time, say spooks ....

"Only seventh? Who was sixth?"
That's according to a Channel 4 programme from this evening - available online for a limited time here - which identified the top ten spy movies of all time. That's quite a challenge.

Rather than using a public vote - which, I suspect, would have ended up with Bond 1-10 - Channel 4 instead talked to real-life former CIA, MI-5 and MI-6 and Stasi agents to draw on their experiences to determine which film was not just the best, but also the most accurate in portraying the world of espionage.

The Ipcress File came in as the seventh best spy film of all time, which seems a fair result. The programme highlighted not just the contrasting reality in the film as compared with its contemporary, the Bond series, but also the paranoia of the 'sixties which had led spy agencies to look into new ways to secure information. A former British soldier was interviewed. Unknown to him in the sixties, he was a guinea pig in experiments at Porton Down to try out LSD as a new type of 'truth serum' for interrogations. Links are drawn between these experiments and the brain-washing scenes Harry Palmer suffers.

Very pleasing to see that The Lives of Others was selected as the fourth best movie - I'd have put it at number one. That place went to the recent adaption of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas to all the Deighton Dossier readers ...

Not much fun on Christmas Eve
Thank you to everyone who has visited the Deighton Dossier blog and website in 2015 - I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

For fans of Len Deighton's fiction, 2016 should be an exciting year with the completion of the BBC adaptation of SS-GB. Fingers crossed it proves to be a smash-hit.

I hope that your Christmas is a lot better than Bernard Samson's in London Match:
"And so it was that, on Christmas Eve, when Gloria was with my children, preparing them for early bed so that Santa Claus could operate undisturbed, I was standing watching the Berlin police trying to winch a wrecked car out of the water."

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Did Oh! What a Lovely War shape our view of WWI - the BBC investigates ....

Very interesting piece up on the BBC's iWonder section of its website, linked to a piece about great British war films and their influence, which considers how the OWALW narrative has shaped our collective view of the Great War.

This article with short audio pieces by journalist Joan Bakewell is an interactive look at the original stage production of the play and the film produced by Len Deighton in 1969, which adapted the original theatre production from the London stage to the English coast at Brighton, and their continued influence on our understanding of the war.

Joan Bakewell explores a number of familiar tropes that are linked to the play and film, such as the controversy associated with both version at the time of their release, the influence of Charles Chilton's The Long, Long Tail on the film production, and the boost the film gave to reviving numerous stage productions of the original play.

Even 101 years after its start, the Great War still plays upon our understanding of the nature of war and its impact on all our lives.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Caine: "Ipcress File always my favourite ..."

Michael Caine is out and about - this time in New Zealand - doing the promotional tour for the new he stars in, Youth.

In this interview in the New Zealand Herald News, Caine looks back at his film career, and confirms that he has always had fond memories of starring in The Ipcress File. in which he played Harry Palmer or "...James Bond Three-and-a-half".

Nice interview, and great to see Caine still supremely active in cinema at 82, showing no signs of slowing down!

Friday, 30 October 2015

Battle of Britain ... images from a unique copy of the book

Still a brilliant depiction of the battle
A reader of this blog, [we'll call him RR], is one of the world's top Ian Fleming collectors but is also a serious collector of the works of Len Deighton.

Recently, he shared with the Deighton Dossier images from his latest acquisition - a first edition of Battle of Britain by Len Deighton, but with some unique additions. His new US first edition contains the signatures of twenty-one World War 2 air aces, most of whom had fought in the Battle of Britain.

It includes: 15 Luftwaffe aces (including the top 3 aces of all time), 5 RAF aces including the top British ace, and, randomly a top Japanese ace! Many of these were interviewed by Deighton in the course of writing the book originally; all have now, of course, passed on.

The first 20 were collected by the dealer from whom the books was purchased at the first flyers' reunion (Fliegertreffen) in 1981 in Germany, just after Douglas Bader started the Luftwaffe/RAF rapprochement with Adolf Galland around the 40th anniversary of the battle in 1980. The top German ace, Erich Hartmann, scored about 350 kills (mostly Soviet) and the leading British ace, Johnnie Johnson, only 38. Against against each signature is their full military titles, honours and the numbers of kills made in battle.

What a tremendously interesting historical document with the imprints of the brave flyers from both sides. Photos are reproduced below:




Thursday, 15 October 2015

London filming starts soon on SS-GB ... with a surprise for residents

The Holly Lodge Estate, near the Highgate Cemetery
Very interesting little story in today's Evening Standard, here.

The good burghers of Highgate, with the famous cemetery, are warned about waking up and walking around their neighbourhood next week and being confronted by Nazi stormtroopers and guards. This is to do with planned filming of a number of scenes from the book. Not immediately clear which ones.

The article refers to an effortlessly polite note to local residents from the production company working for the BBC, which states: "There will be actors dressed in German Army, SS and Russian military uniform, some will be armed – please do not be alarmed." Quite.

Unlike the Game, Set & Match ennealogy, which is still sitting in pre-production with Clerkenwell Films, who've shed very little light on what's happening, at least this is evidence that when the BBC says we'll get SS-GB in 2016, that's likely to be the case.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Game, Set ... but not Match? A reader invites answers on perplexing questions about the Samson series

Adrian Bailey's illustration for the Game, Set and Match series. Can you recognise each character?
The Samson series of ten novels is, in my opinion, the apogee of Deighton's fiction writing. Over these novels he creates such a web of well-developed who all have some part to play in their respective futures.

But opinions on the novel and the characters are not uniform. Canadian blog reader Milan Stolarik got in touch with the Deighton Dossier to offer his views on this series of books having just read the novels in sequence.

He had some questions about the characters and the books, and I thought it would be best to encourage blog readers to read his thoughts and respond. Here's Milan's contribution:

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

More info on the coming SS-GB adaptation ...

1980's paperback cover art
...courtesy of the Radio Times.

In this piece online, the magazine confirms the appointment of Sam Riley to play the lead character in Len Deighton's famous alternative timeline history of a Nazi-occupied Britain.

The producers and writers aim to "think the unthinkable". Sounds like it will be fascinating stuff.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Spies are cool again ... says the Guardian

Great article in this week's Guardian newspaper about the fact that spies and agents are de riguer again in Television.

TV critic Mark Lawson, who's often on the Newsnight review show, identifies the plethora of spy-related shows that UK TV viewers can look forward to this autumn: the new season of Homeland, a new five-parter called London Spy which - as Lawson notes - immediately draws comparisons perhaps with London Match, the first Bernard Samson novel; plus there's a new adaptation of Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent.

The future BBC SS-GB adaption is also referenced but is incorrect, in that filming is starting this year but it is not scheduled for broadcast in 2015. Sadly, we have to wait a little longer!


Monday, 24 August 2015

James Bond is 85 tomorrow - happy birthday!

That's Sean Connery, of course, who's 85th birthday is on 25 August. Great actor as Bond but also in so many other films that are too numerous to mention. Here's a nice summary on the BBC website of his career and how he moved on from the 007 character to star in some great roles.

The Bond blogs and discussion forums will I'm sure be alive with debates about whether he's the best Bond or not.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Riley ... ace of spies

News from the film world about the planned SS:GB film production, being written by Bond writers Neil Purvis and Robert Wade.

Actor Sam Riley is in talks to become the lead character in the upcoming film adaptation of SS:GB, playing British cop Douglas Archer, in this much anticipated BBC-backed film. This article in Deadline, the movie industry magazine, confirms that German director Philipp Kadelbach is on board to direct.

Interesting news.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Food for thought: Deighton on Radio 4 in August

When last in London, Len Deighton recorded an interview with Radio 4, which will be broadcast at 1230h on 9 August.

The theme is food heroes. Presenter Tim Hayward examines Deighton's qualities for this heroic role by looking at the way he changed people's understanding of food and cooking in the 'sixties through his Action Cookbook, and the wider influence food has had on his life, from his time as a pastry chef in a London hotel through to the present day.

Sounds interesting.

You can access the programme online here, after the original broadcast next week.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Fifth Q&A with the author ...

The author, 2013
As promised, Len Deighton has kindly responded to the request of the blog editor and readers and provided a fifth edition of our Q&A series which, over the years now, he's been kind enough to provide to the blog to give readers some further insights into this books and his process as an author.

This time, again, there are a mixture of questions from me, the editor, together with questions from readers of the blog or the main Deighton Dossier website.

Full Q&A below the fold. Some further updates may be added in due course.

Enjoy!