Cambridge Spies (2003)

In Amazing, BBC, LGTB, period drama, political, Recommendation, Review, romantic, series on 01/08/2011 at 11:06 pm

Four Cambridge friends in the early 1930s. We choose to forget, but this was a time that Nazism, with all its xenophobia and ideas of a ‘higher race’, was actually the rule rather than the exception amongst the English educated classes. Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, Donald Mclean and Anthony Blunt did more than disagree: they were secretly recruited as communist spies by Moscow. This is a true story, which the BBC fictionalised in a most marvellous four-part miniseries.

If I had anything to complain about this production it would be that they could have stretched the story out over five or six episodes. That’s actually a compliment. The four friends ( a beautiful cast by the way: Tom Hollander, Rupert Penry-Jones, Toby Stephens and Samuel West) are all in their own way contagiously idealistic and hopelessly romantic. They managed to spring to life and befriend me in just a few hours. Now, that must be brilliant acting and writing, because that hardly ever happens.

The story doesn’t only deal with the great ideologies of the time, racism and class discrimination, it also (necessarily) includes homosexuality, as two of the four friends are gay. Additional kudos to the creators for not letting one theme overshadow any other. A good dose of both charm and humour simply made this miniseries one of the most enjoyable productions I’ve seen over the past years.





  1. I enjoyed the review, but like your comments about the series, it was over too quickly! That, said your observations are good and furthermore I find myself in agreement. Not least in the fact that the series seemed to be over too quickly. It’s an interesting story, and complex in that you have to understand the politics of the day – in every sense of the term.

  2. Cheers for your feedback Steve. Hope many readers may enjoy this brilliant too short miniseries as much as we did.

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