Mr Palfrey of Westminster
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"Cleverly written adventures … absorbing viewing" --Daily Star (U.K.)
"Polished and realistic" --Daily Mail (U.K.)
He describes himself as "just a civil servant." But in the cloak-and-dagger world of the British security services, mild-mannered Mr. Palfrey (Golden Globe® nominee Alec McCowen, Travels with My Aunt) is an invaluable player in the spy game. A master of counterespionage and a spy-catcher extraordinaire, he’s smart, discreet, cunning--and likes to do things his own way.
His new boss quickly realizes the talents and the dangers of the deceptively charming, utterly ruthless Palfrey. Known simply as "the Coordinator" and splendidly played by Caroline Blakiston (Brass, Scoop), she appoints an assistant (Clive Wood, Pillars of the Earth) to work with Palfrey but report back to her. As always, however, Palfrey has his own ideas.
"Alec McCowen plays [Palfrey] to perfection" (The Times, U.K.) in this stylish British spy series seen on public television and featuring guest appearances by Julian Glover (The Young Victoria), Leslie Phillips (Chancer), Richard Johnson (The Camomile Lawn), and Deborah Grant (Bergerac).
Top Customer Reviews
10 episodes, each about 50 minutes. SUBTITLES have been added for those who like using them. Plenty of British stars join the series as guests.
Series 1-Episode 1 ONCE YOUR CARD IS MARKED
Palfrey's surprise new boss is female, known only as the Coordinator (Caroline Blakiston-"The Forsyte Saga","Wives and Daughters","Scoop"). Palfrey must find and secure a diplomat, Mr. Springer, believed spying for Soviets. A spy or scapegoat?
1-2 THE HONEYPOT AND THE BEES
Air Vice Marshal Conyers (Richard Johnson-"The Robinsons"), defense official, & a young Czech girl disappear. The Coordinator assumes there's a supreme security risk.
1-3 THE DEFECTOR
Palfrey cautions the Coordinator about announcing a Russian author's, Volkov (Julian Glover-"The Young Victoria","Wish Me Luck") defection. Is it just a trap since the KGB gets involved? Also Yelena (Deborah Grant-"Bergerac","Crown Prosecutor"), a Russian acquaintance of Palfrey gets into the scene.
1-4 A PRESENT FROM LEIPZIG
A Russian 13th Century icon is found by the Coordinator even though never reported stolen. Why? And why is an E.Read more ›
The show is very slow and each story plods on as it would in real life at least in 1984-86. They technology is of that time and so are the cold war worries. It's interesting to remember that the terrible cold war would be over in 7 years only! Noone in 1986 could see this happening! These type of spy stories are very much real ones that had played out over and over through the decades and for people to complain about how slow they were shows that they have no REAL KNOWLEDGE of spycraft. Sure they were some gunfights and big operations but mostly men ran little ops trying to ensare the other side. A good case of this is the story of the defecting author. IS he for real?
and obviously even if he isn't it's not a huge victory for the soviets to plant a man who will later return and say the west sucks. But that is how things really were back then! Each little op was such a thing. Of course at the time of this show it was only just revealed about the evil american turncoat who was working for the soviets for money. The people who died because of him were all soviets too.Read more ›
That's probably because so many of the great British spy novelists - Ian Fleming and John LeCarre, to name just two - were former intelligence officers themselves. That allows them to bring a certain degree of authenticity to their stories.
The same might be said for spy movies and television programs. For some reason, the British just seem to do it better than anyone else.
"Mr. Palfrey of Westminster" is a prime example of just how good the UK is when it comes to producing excellent spy programs.
Palfrey is a middle-aged civil servant who is exceptionally good at ferreting out traitors in the British secret services. He's subtle, can be charming, and is always discreet. As far as his bosses are concerned, he does sometimes come off as if he's not exactly sure what he's doing but that's seldom the case for he has a razor-sharp mind and a wealth of both contacts and experience, which he uses to great advantage.
Set at the close of the Cold War, this short series is a wonderful example of great television produced on a relatively thin budget and without a lot of gratuitous violence. There are no whiz-bang special effects, no hair-raising car chases, and no James Bond-like gadgets. There are, however, smartly written scripts, and excellent portrayals. Alec McCowen, as Palfrey, and Caroline Blackiston - complete with Princess Di haircut - as his boss are exceptional in their roles, for example.
I should make clear that this is not a series for everyone.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoy the stories and have listened them for a long time. I don't get tired of them.Published 23 days ago by Lazy Sonoma Quilter
i watched this series on Netflix years ago and have watched it several times since. i finally bought it so that i could be sure i could watch it again at will. Read morePublished 14 months ago by June
Great price, and I am a collector of Classic tv and movies, I love murder mystery monsters Honestly British tv and movies are awsum, Well made and they are way above the rest. Read morePublished 16 months ago by chip fortune
WOW!!wonderful writing, acting& story lines!i luckily fell on this old series on you tube & was hooked! The dialogue is quick, smart & the acting is spot on! Read morePublished 18 months ago by MtnBrookie
I'd forgotten how marvellous this 1980s Thames Television series is -- on par with 'Tinker, Tailor' and the British 'House of Cards. Read morePublished 19 months ago by They