If you like watching a spy catch a spy; here's a set to own. It's created in mid 1980s when British spies used floppy disc drives, VHS tape, audiotape, and dial phones. Mr. Palfrey (Alec McCowen-'Travels with My Aunt','Victoria & Albert') is a spy-buster. A hunter of spies within. He's slick & effective--Westminster's ace. The spy activity is believable--not Hollywood super-hero, super-tech, super-action style. Palfrey was a bit stuffy in the 1st season (episodes 1-4) but eventually the dialogue gave him some quick wit adding sprinklings of humor amid the intrigue. Call it 4 1/2 stars, if you must, for age, but it's better than most 21st century spy films.
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. German visiting a Brit industrialist?
Series 2-Episode 1 FREEDOM FROM LONGING
Blair (regular, Clive Wood-"London's Burning","Press Gang") is called in to help investigate Martina (Estelle Kohler-"The Main Chance"), a Czech woman with who he once had an affair. Is she a Russian spy? Palfrey questions Blair's involvement. Martina's breasts get exposed for a few seconds, the only reason for the box warning.
2-2 RETURN TO SENDER
Returning after defection to the Soviets, spy Rupert Styles (Leslie Phillips- "Chancer","Ruth Rendell Mysteries") is assigned to Palfrey for silencing. As always, Palfrey has his own way of doing things. Nikolai Baliev (Clive Francis-"Poldark","Sense and Sensibility","Lipstick on Your Collar")is involved. Excellent episode.
2-3 MUSIC OF A DEAD PROPHET
Palfrey is assigned to sabotage a book publication revealing a 1950's Iranian assassination. Of course it's a gov-cover-up. What to do?
2-4 OFFICIAL SECRET
Palfrey is to stop a past government man from telling the media that there are continuing double agents at work in Britain. Yelena is a defector under state protection. McNair (David Quilter-"Grange Hill","Lilies") is responsible for her safety. There is an omelet-size bit of romance.
Palfrey's trailing a space engineer, Madison (David Baxt-"We'll Meet Again")that the CIA believes is spying for the Soviets. A computer connected "Star Wars" battle game leads to clues and suspects.
2-6 THE BAITED TRAP
Coordinator is tipped off by a Soviet that there is a double-agent, namely Bob Sanding (Jim Norton-"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas","Nanny"). Palfrey is assigned to check it out, even though palfrey is wary. Nikolai (2-2) rekindles contact with Coordinator, for what ends?
I apologize for the review length. There is a lot of spy story in this set.