Iconic Cold War spy George Smiley returns in John le Carre’s The Secret Pilgrim. Set soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Smiley, now very much in the twilight years of his eventful life, accepts an invitation from a former student and veteran spy Ned to talk at a dinner with the latest crop of enthusiastic young spies.
As Smiley imparts the wisdom and experience of his years to this next generation of secret agents, it is Ned who takes centre stage in the story, recounting the audience with a lifetime’s worth of stories of daring, subterfuge, betrayal and death-defying bravery. It is in effect not one story but many, told with all the mastery and intrigue that le Carre’s work is synonymous with.
Whether you’re a long-serving fan of George Smiley or have never read a le Carre novel, this engaging full-cast dramatisation serves as a perfect fix of thrilling espionage that will have you at the edge of your armchair or your car seat. Simon Russell Beale reprises his role as Smiley, while Patrick Malahide can’t help but capture the listener’s attention as Ned. This is another striking BBC adaption of the work of one of spy fiction’s grand masters.