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CODENAME

codename_tv_c
 
Full Name: Codename
Nationality: British
Organization: MI17
Occupation Agency

Creator: Bill Hays, David Sullivan Proudfoot
Time Span: 1969 - 1970

ABOUT THE SERIES

Codename is the cover term for an agency with British Intelligence.

The official designation for this department is MI-17.

We learn a small but highly interesting amount of information from a promotion for the recorded adventures we have of this group: "It's about a British spy ring based at Cambridge and code-named Portcullis, which consists of the master of a College, his daughter, his hatchet manservant, and an international law lecturer". This blurb also tells us that this team is "very sophisticated and devious, too". The College in question is St. Martyr's Residential Hall.

The headmaster mentioned is Sir Iain Dalzell, a man of considerable experience with both the clandestine and the political worlds having been, from comments made by and about him, an operative himself back in the day as well as having served in the House of Commons and as a cabinet Minister.

Assisting him is his also quite capable and very beautiful and elegant daughter, Diana. While her skills as an operative might seem lacking by the fact that in the first adventure we can follow, she is kidnapped, her actions there and subsequently bear out her talents.

The "hatchet" is the highly intimidating Culliford who works as Sir Iain's manservant as his official employment but who is a trained killer and not at all reluctant to show it.

Rounding out this quartet is practicing attorney Philip West, on record as being a visiting lecturer but really on hand to be sent wherever a capable operative is needed.

It should be noted that though these last two, Culliford and West, are both available to field work, the two are not on the best of terms. West is decidedly upper-class-ish while Culliford is far more brutish and menacing.

MOVIES

Number of Movies:1
First Appearance:1969
Last Appearance:1969

     It is hard to say whether the 'movie' mentioned below was created to be a pilot for a subsequent television series or not - but it worked out that way. The play was televised in July of 1969 and the short-run television series came out 11 months later.

1 Codename: Portcullis Codename: Portcullis
Director: Bill Hays
Writer: Bill Hays
Actors: Clifford Evans as Sir Iain Carfax, Jennifer Daniel as Diana Carfax, John White as Dick Culliford, Peter Jeffrey as Philip Skelton
Released: 1969

Described as both a televised play and as a made-to-television movie, this BBC 1 production aired on July 8, 1969.
"Martyrs' Hall is a distinguished Cambridge college. The Master, Sir Iain Carfax, has recently left the Cabinet and now enjoys life at his old college with his daughter Diana. The dignified serenity is, however, a cover for the United Kingdom's most important spy cell, 'Codename: Portcullis'. This play concerns the enlistment of a new co-spy and the prevention of a dangerous formula in the germ-warfare arsenal from leaving the country."

TELEVISION


Number of Episodes:13
First Appearance:1970
Last Appearance:1970
Network:BBC

REGULAR CAST
Clifford EvansSir Iain Dalzell [ 1 ]
Alexandra BastedoDiana Dalzell [ 1 ]
Anthony ValentinePhilip West [ 1 ]
Brian PeckCulliford [ 1 ]







The synopsis for the episodes comes from trakt.tv and from the Radio & TV guide from the Evening Standard newspaper.


1 Kingsmate
Episode S1-1, first aired 04/07/1970
Director: Viktors Ritelis
Writers: David Sullivan Proudfoot, Bill Hays, Michael Winder

"Under cover of being Master of a Cambridge College, Sir Iain Dalzell is head of a top British spy ring. His daughter Diana is captured by enemy agent General Hovaths." "The enemy captures the daughter [Diana Dalzell] and barters her for her father [Iain Dalzell]. Realizing he is a security risk, he flees and is trapped down by the others."

2 Target
Episode S1-2, first aired 04/14/1970
Director: Gerard Glaister
Writers: David Sullivan Proudfoot, Bill Hays, N.J. Crisp

"Sir Iain orders lawyer and spy Philip West to escort a professional assassin, Morgan, back from Portugal to England. But West's assignment is not as easy as it appears." "Philip West is ordered to escort a professional assassin from Portugal to England."

3 A Walk with the Lions
Episode S1-3, first aired 04/21/1970
Director: Ronald Wilson
Writers: David Sullivan Proudfoot, Bill Hays, Tony Williamson

"Spy Philip West is sent by Sir Iain to investigate the disappearance of several British agents in Lisbon. But he is captured by the opposition and interrogated." "West is sent to investigate the disappearance of several British agents in Lisbon."

4 One for the Lobster Pot
Episode S1-4, first aired 04/28/1970
Director: Ben Rea
Writers: David Sullivan Proudfoot, Bill Hays, Robert Barr

"Philip West is detailed to locate an enemy agent who is planning the theft of a missile guidance system. His investigation takes him to Cornwall - and lobster pots." "An enemy agent plans to steal a missile guidance system."

5 Come Home to Paradise
Episode S1-5, first aired 05/05/1970
Director: Viktors Ritelis
Writers: Ray Jenkins, Bill Hays, David Sullivan Proudfoot

"Two agents from a spy-training centre are chosen for a ""suicide mission"". Are they trustworthy? And more important for Sir Iain - is the man who trained them to be trusted?"

6 Warhead
Episode S1-6, first aired 05/12/1970
Director: Baz Taylor
Writers: David Sullivan Proudfoot, Bill Hays, Tony Williamson

"A Russian bomber jettisons two nuclear warheads just outside Bulgaria. Sir Iain is ordered to photograph the missiles before they are retrieved. But they are held in a maximum security police headquarters at the fishing village of Borku, and there is less than twenty four hours in which to act."

7 The Big Plant
Episode S1-7, first aired 05/19/1970
Director: Ronald Wilson
Writers: Martin Hall, Bill Hays, David Sullivan Proudfoot

"Penelope Blanchard, an elderly civil servant has assisted MI17 in the past. Now, asked to help again, she is strangely reluctant. Philip West has to find out why."

8 The Quickness of the Hand
Episode S1-8, first aired 05/26/1970
Director: David Sullivan Proudfoot
Writers: Bill Hays, Colin Free

"Philip West misses his opportunity to abduct the scientist Rena Szarvos en route to a conference. He is compelled to attempt the oldest approach - seduction. But others have similar ideas."

9 Have a Word with Greco
Episode S1-9, first aired 06/02/1970
Director: Ben Rea
Writers: David T. Chantler, Bill Hays, David Sullivan Proudfoot

"Greco, an enemy agent, is planning a conference of all the Eastern countries. Sir Iain's task is to find Greco and stop the conference taking place."

10 The Alpha Men
Episode S1-10, first aired 06/09/1970
Director: Ronald Wilson
Writers: Bill Hays, Victor Canning, David Sullivan Proudfoot

"The pseudo-philosophical Society of Alpha trades in secrets and subversions, tapping the minds of its members under hypnosis. Philip West and Diana join the Society as part of their investigation."

11 Appointment in Prague
Episode S1-11, first aired 06/16/1970
Director: Ronald Wilson
Writers: David Sullivan Proudfoot, Bill Hays, Robert Barr

"Two theses, on which Doctor Petrie has based his reputation, are revealed as forgeries. He has been sponsored by Karl Dickinson, scientific benefactor, and Sir Iain suspects both men of not being what they seem."

12 Opening Gambit
Episode S1-12, first aired 06/23/1970
Director: Peter Graham Scott
Writers: David Sullivan Proudfoot, Bill Hays, Tony Williamson

"Goric, a foreign agent, comes to Britain to attend a chess tournament where he will receive some top secret microfilm. Unfortunately he becomes indisposed so Philip West goes in disguise - having hopefully brushed up on his knowledge of chess."

13 The Unbidden Guest
Episode S1-13, first aired 06/30/1970
Director: Ronald Wilson
Writers: Mervyn Haisman, Bill Hays, Henry Lincoln

"Vaslav Baroviev, a Russian writer visiting Cambridge, asks for asylum. But Sir Iain soon discovers that there are people who wish to prevent his defection."

MY COMMENTS

     I enter this series into the compendium without having had the opportunity to watch either the television play that came first or the any of the 13 television episodes that came the next year.

     I regret that fact because the few reviews I have found of both have indicated it was sophisticated and entertaining. And it had Alexandra Bastedo, a lady actor I fell in love with in The Champions.

     Unfortunately, the fact that the show lasted but 13 episodes shows that the audience was probably not so enamored (I use probably because there are too many examples of upper-management foolishness).

GRADE

My Grade: B

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