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A Perfect Spy (Dramatised)

Length: 3 hrs and 57 mins
4 out of 5 stars (209 ratings)

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Summary

A BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of the bestselling novel by John le Carré, starring James Fox, Harriet Walter and Julian Rhind-Tutt. Magnus Pym, Counsellor at the British Embassy, is hosting a dinner party at his home in Vienna when he receives an unexpected telephone call that will profoundly affect his life. Once the guests have gone, Pym breaks the news to his wife, Mary: his father, Rick, is dead. In a state of shock, he says something Mary cannot understand - 'After all these years, I'm free.' Magnus flies back to England to attend the funeral - and doesn't return. As Mary and MI6 spymaster Jack Brotherhood desperately try to find out his whereabouts, it soon becomes clear that Pym has been keeping secrets from both his family and his employers, the British Intelligence Service. Hiding out in a remote cottage in Devon, where he goes by the name of Mr Canterbury, Magnus begins to write his memoirs - retracing his rise and fall and revealing how Rick led him step by step into a double life of deception, broken promises and betrayal... Adapted from the John le Carré novel by Rene Basilico.

©1986 David Cornwell (P)2011 BBC Worldwide Ltd

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    90
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    59
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    49
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    6
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • POS
  • County Cork, Ireland
  • 01-04-15

Great Production.

It was a great production. All the actors were great especially James Fox and Julian Rhind Tutt. Very much recommend it.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Really evokes the mood of the Carre classic

Very well edited with a very talented cast. A great way to enjoy the novel

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Ho hum, I Guess I Just Don't Get le Carré!

I've tried a couple of John le Carré's books in the past and found myself more working my way through them than enjoying the experience.. Given how popular and respected an author he is that's always bothered me, what was I missing? So, seeing a dramatisation like this I had hoped that such an alternative look at one of the stories might help me see the magic.

Sadly not, this had the same feeling of trudging through the story as the books and some of the actors seemed to lack much in the way of enthusiasm throughout. Nothing much seems to happen and it seems to take a long time making so little progress. I did very much enjoy the Axel performance, almost pin point perfect sounding just like some of my German colleagues speaking English in every way but other than that I found few highlights.

So, with apologies to the many fans of the author for being negative but I'm just not getting it sadly.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Tediously boring listen

I’ve listened to the end of part 4 expecting it to pick up - I can’t realistically listen any more. If this is the ‘dramatised’ version I just can’t imagine what the undramatised would be like. Does adapting a novel for radio involve sucking the life out of a story?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Brilliant adaptation.

A brilliant adaptation of the book by the BBC. First class performances of the characters and the times. As with many John le Carre books, the ending is not always what you think it's going to be. Occasionally, I find the ending unsatisfactory....

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An excellent production with some technical issues

This was an excellent production with some very good performances all round. The only criticism I have is that there is some sound bleed from the original source. There seems to be an echo in the background on some scenes, which was slightly distracting.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Interpretation

Jack is not played appropriately. The voice actor has intonation and is to aggressive in his interpretation of the lines he delivers. This makes him unrealistic and certainly not aligned with the usual John le carre written word, which is normally considered careful respectful and appropriate to his objective. This guy is miles off

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

old classic

Old classic, great to hear again without having to wrestle a doorstep book in the bath. Still enjoyable.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • JACQUI
  • Shaareh Tikvah, Israel
  • 27-11-18

listen listen listen<br />

loved it. couldn't stop listening to it till it ended. kept me engulfed on my long journeys

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Edwin
  • Derbyshire
  • 14-11-16

A Perfect Spy

Not nearly as good as the Complete Smiley or the Russia House I am afraid.

2 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Christopher
  • Christopher
  • 11-06-11

A decent dramatization

This dramatization, in eight half-hour episodes, apparently dates from 1993. Rene Basilico's adaptation of the novel is skillful, though perhaps inevitably some important elements of the story (particularly to do with Pym's childhood) are omitted or only mentioned briefly. The production is good, and James Fox is excellent in the lead role. My only complaint is that some of the acting is at times a little cartoonish. It's as if the program came at a time of transition between an older, "stagey" style of voice acting and a modern, more naturalistic approach. Fortunately the problem is mostly confined to minor characters. Although this program is not quite up to the standard of the BBC's recent (superb) cycle of le Carre's Smiley novels, it is still effective and enjoyable overall. Here's hoping the BBC will release more le Carre dramatizations!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Joyce
  • Joyce
  • 18-03-12

The Perfect Spy - Dramatised BBC Cast Recording

Would you try another book from John le Carré and/or the narrators?

I would definitely buy another recording if the music cuold be excluded. The durgelike, hideous and penetrating music is hard on the ears, brain and detracts enormously from the enjoyment of the recording.

What other book might you compare A Perfect Spy (Dramatised) to and why?

Not applicable.

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narrators are superb.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

no

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jahana
  • Jahana
  • 13-01-12

Not finished yet

What did you love best about A Perfect Spy (Dramatised)?

I don't want this to end. The acting (e.g. James Fox) is top quality BBC. Story is concise adaptation of novel (which must be read to get the

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for DARBY KERN
  • DARBY KERN
  • 10-09-12

A great dramatization, not the complete novel

What did you love best about A Perfect Spy (Dramatised)?

It's a nice condensation of the novel, which I have less time to read or even listen to. The story is told very nicely and the actors do a wonderful job- as they do in all the Le Carre' adaptations. Those adapted by Rene Basilico are the best in my opinion. They include The Perfect Spy, The Russia House, A Small Town In Germany, and the two Smiley adaptations: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Smiley's People (the versions starring Bernard Hepton- sadly not yet available on Audible).

What other book might you compare A Perfect Spy (Dramatised) to and why?

A Small Town In Germany and The Russia House, both dramatized and available on Audible. I recommend them both.

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

A clear understanding of how the lines are read. The British idiom can be lost in print but the actors make things clearly understood. I haven't listened to Mr. Jayston's reading of the book, which is 17 hours longer, but I suspect he helps push the listener along too.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

"After all these years... I'm finally free."

Any additional comments?

You must realize that this is a dramatization with multiple actors, sound effects and music. It's so much more than one person reading you a story, but it is NOT the word for word text of the novel. That is available too and I wouldn't discourage you from buying it. I think if you give the dramas a try you'll find you enjoy them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful