As other reviews have stated this is a tightly scripted, reasonably true to Le Carre's original, cold war, spy thriller. That said, it is also so much more than that. Even if you are not usually one to be impressed by filmic attempts to capture books (as in the book is always better!), attempts to film Le Carre's books authentically, mini-series, attempts to tell spy/cold-war stories w/o lots of booms and blood you should give this set a try. The characters are real, the camera work is of the stuff to be a textbook, the directing is superbe and the editing is of the highest standard. The DVD itself is an improvement over the VHS version but this is broadcast TV and in 4:3. Still there is almost NOTHING to criticise here (unless you've just GOT to have the noise and gore!). Yes it is 324 minutes long but each episode is so well done you can literally watch them out of order and they each make a great evening's viewing. What other mini-series can that be said of? Among the best the the BBC have done and they usually get this type of stuff as well as anyone. An excellent choice for discussion groups, film students, etc, etc. Can I come up with a real criticism? Well the box is dull and there's no directors blather or such but this is among the best you can get for the full price. At a discount it almost makes one feel guilty. What a wonderful study piece for any aspiring actor, director, editor, or just blokes like me who like to pretend we're British every now and then. Buy this one!