The Sandbaggers Rewatch
February 13, 2016 7:25 PM - Subscribe

Would anyone here be up for re-watching "The Sandbaggers"?

I've recently started re-watching The Sandbaggers (IMDB), late 70's British espionage drama set in a fictional British intelligence unit. Something of a cult series it follows Secret Intelligence Service Operations Chief Neil Burnside, played by Roy Marsden, who runs the titular unit of special agents.

I had a vague memory of the series from watching it as a kid on PBS, but have been really impressed with it on re-watch. Burnside spends most of his time in political fights over what to do and how to do it, the work in the field is nasty and dangerous, and their top agent is a lumpy bloke in a flat cap who dislikes violence prefers not to carry a gun. There's a lot more in the series I think might be interesting for MeFites on FanFare to discuss and I'm curious if there's interest in a rewatch on FanFare.
posted by Grimgrin (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I rewatched Season 1 last summer. It's brutal.

I can't watch it at the moment though. Also not sure if I'd ever have anything coherent to say, other than OMG!Ican'tbelievetheydidtha—OMG!

Note: The dvds I rented did not have subtitles and could've used them, as the dialog is pretty rapid-fire with a lot of unfamiliar acronyms. It's the kind of show where you need to pay very close attention to what's not being said.

their top agent is a lumpy bloke in a flat cap

Hey now.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:56 AM on February 14, 2016

I will watch the crap out of this.

"Where can we film that looks like Communist-era Bulgaria or Hungary? Leeds!"
posted by longbaugh at 9:06 AM on February 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sounds great, though it wouldn't be a rewatch for me.
posted by thesmallmachine at 6:27 PM on February 14, 2016

Right, it looks like there's enough interest to get a decent discussion going. I'll probably put posts up on Fan Fare proper about the series once a week with the first post going up on or about the 19th.
posted by Grimgrin at 1:21 AM on February 15, 2016

I love this show. Is it available streaming anywhere in the US?
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 6:02 AM on February 15, 2016

I've heard this described as the most accurate portrayal of spycraft ever put on TV (and perhaps better than any given movie on the subject).

Something I found striking is that the only time I recall hearing anyone referred to as 'the enemy', it was in relation to MI5.

This is great TV (although not an easy watch).
posted by el io at 6:05 PM on February 15, 2016

He Is Only The Imposter: Not that I'm aware of, but the whole thing is up on YouTube (with Yorkshire Television title card/countdown clock).
posted by Grimgrin at 7:43 PM on February 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hey thanks, I can join in the fun too.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:50 PM on February 15, 2016

Netflix recently moved the S1D1 Sandbaggers to the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ section of my DVD queue (they call it 'saved' but 'haha no not here' is more accurate), so I am unsure how available this is. If you care about providence, I mean.
posted by phearlez at 1:12 PM on February 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've heard this described as the most accurate portrayal of spycraft ever put on TV (and perhaps better than any given movie on the subject).

It was written by a chap who worked for British Naval Intelligence and yes, it is extraordinarily accurate in that a) most of the drama comes from the shit caused by the relationship between the Western intelligence agencies and the politicians who direct their usage b) everything goes wrong all the time c) everything goes wrong all the time. I've put that twice on purpose because most official reports will generally give a quite rosy tint to what was very much a sausage-making endeavour. Real intelligence operations are very low key and often go bosoms-up, as portrayed accurately in the show.

One unrealistic thing about it is that it's actually based around the organisation of the CIA at the time (D-Ops, D-Int is a wholly American creation) so it shouldn't be used as a window into how SIS was actually organised. Still a great show, and if anyone's interested, the basis of Greg Rucka's "Queen & Country" series of comics and books.

Finally - anyone who is a smoker or has recently quit smoking should be aware that EVERYONE is CONSTANTLY chain-smoking. Like, all the time. If your willpower is weak be aware that you'll have never seen so much smoking in any given TV show.
posted by longbaugh at 4:29 AM on March 1, 2016

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