Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy / Smiley’s People

In DVD/Blu-ray by Samuel Love

Originally released on Blu-ray individually in 2019 and 2020 respectively, this new release collects Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley’s People in one Blu-ray boxset to relive George Smiley’s intense and memorable missions. Aired on the BBC in 1979 and 1982, these two acclaimed spy dramas based on John le Carré’s iconic works remain among British television’s finest achievements.

While Gary Oldman certainly did a good job in Tomas Alfredson’s Oscar-nominated film adaptation in 2011, there really is no substitute for Sir Alec Guinness. His performance here is one for the ages, bringing le Carré’s creation to life in a way that most TV and film adaptations can only dream of. It’s no surprise that Guinness picked up the BAFTA for his performance here, with le Carré considering the series his favourite adaptation of his work thanks to the collaboration with the beloved actor.

For those coming into the series fresh, this slow and meditative drama is certainly unlike the loud, fast television of today – both of the series included here often move at a snail’s pace with a narrative so complicated that often doesn’t hold the viewers’ hands. But for those who can get on its wavelength, it is a masterful piece of television that represents a golden era for the BBC that they’ve seldom got near to since. 

Packed with magnificent performances from a who’s who of 1970s British film and television, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley’s People remain an unparalleled masterwork in both the genre and the medium, and it sure is a joy to have them both together in one box – and looking absolutely glorious in high definition. What a treat.