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THE PIGLET FILES

piglet_files_tv_tpf
 
Full Name: Peter Chapman
Nationality: British
Organization: MI5
Occupation Agent

Creator: Brian Leveson, Paul Minett
Time Span: 1990 - 1992

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Peter Chapman is an agent with MI5.
       When we first meet him, he is happily working for the past few years as a lecturer at a local polytechnic college. Prior to that this 32-year-old-man got a job after graduating from university at a major corporation, GTK Electronics, where he was for 5 years before switching to his teaching post.
       Chapman is married to the lovely Sarah who works for a publishing company. Both are quite pleased with their life, with the exception of income which they both wish was higher. Considering his position with a lesser-known institute of higher learning, however, they are not expecting that to change.
       Change it does, though, but not through anything Chapman did or sought or even considered might happen.
       Britain's main protection from enemy agents stealing all its vital secrets lies with MI5 and MI5 is having an issue. Technology has progressed extremely far and disturbingly fast and the leadership of that organization has come to the sad realization that its agents are woefully not up to the task of staying current with the changes.
       Even more troublesome is the fact that none of them have the faintest idea how to use even much older tech. Prime examples of this being the leaving of a lens cap on the camera resulting in all pictures of an enemy agent being followed turning out rather dark (i.e. completely black). Or the more interesting instance where a microphone was to be planted in a wall of a Russian facility to transmit to a receiving box a mile away - only to have the agents installing the box in the wall and the microphone left in their car.


       So here comes the change - MI5, needing a tech guy, picks Chapman and quietly probes for his interest in changing jobs. No interest found, they pressure the college to sack poor Chapman and then have the administrator pass along a "potential job offer". A fast but odd interview ensues and Chapman is hired.
       It would be nice to think this the solution to both their problems; Chapman needing a job and MI5 needing a tech wiz. Unfortunately ...


       We find quickly that there is a good reason few of the MI5 agents in question have trouble with technology. A very, very good reason, namely that some would find a on-off light switch on the wall a challenge. And Chapman, being highly intelligent and knowledgeable about all things electrical or wireless or radio-anything, is used to teaching people who are a) interested in learning and b) capable of it.
       Plus poor Chapman is regrettably not the optimum agent material. He shouldn't have to be because his place was in the lab and the briefing room, not the field, or so it was hoped. Things do not work out so well in that regard and Chapman finds himself out in the murky world of the spy where he is not at all trained working with people who are not in least interested in what he is doing.
       Throw in the fact that Chapman is expressly forbidden to tell his wife who he really works for or what he is really doing and so lots of strange problems will pop up.


       The name of this series of adventures of Peter Chapman is called the Piglet Files. The reason for that odd title comes from Chapman asking for a codename - if he is going to be in the spy business, shouldn't he have a codename, he asks? Oh, alright, his new boss concedes and looks in the list of available names. Panda was gone. So was Panther. Next up was Puma. Oh, wait, there was one before that - yes, you are Piglet!


Good Lines:
- When asked during his MI5 interview, 'Are you now or have you ever been a practicing homosexual?' Chapman responds, "No, but I am willing to learn if the job depends on it."
- Again in the interview when asked if he was open to bribery, he says, "Well, I don't know. It depends on what you have in mind."

TELEVISION


Number of Episodes:21
First Appearance:1990
Last Appearance:1992
Network:ITV

REGULAR CAST
Nicholas LyndhurstPeter "Piglet" Chapman [ 1-3 ]
Clive FrancisMajor Drummond [ 1-3 ]
John RinghamMajor Maxwell [ 1-3 ]
Serena EvansSarah Chapman [ 1-3 ]
1 A Question of Intelligence
Episode S1-1, first aired 09/07/1990
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

When Peter Chapman is fired from his job as electronics lecturer at a polytechnic, a new role comes along almost immediately. His first day in the job doesn't exactly go to plan.

2 Fair Exchange
Episode S1-2, first aired 09/14/1990
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

Sarah is mistakenly captured by a couple of bumbling Russian agents, and getting little support from Drummond or Maxwell, Piglet goes about securing her return himself.

3 A Room with a View
Episode S1-3, first aired 09/21/1990
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

Since the fall of the Berlin wall, agents have been flooding into Britain. Dexter and Flint are staking out a house belonging to two such unwelcome guests, and Peter's brought in to help assist their surveillance by new electronic means ahead of a visit by their East German controller.

4 The Ice Man Cometh
Episode S1-4, first aired 09/28/1990
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

When the Russians mistake Piglet for another agent, it seems that his life may suddenly be in great danger. Meanwhile, his latest technological developments aren't exactly working as intended.

5 The Beagle Has Landed
Episode S1-5, first aired 10/05/1990
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

Dexter and Lewis attempt to infiltrate a militant animal-rights group. Unsurprisingly, they have little success. Piglet, however, could be just the man for the job.

6 Now You See It
Episode S1-6, first aired 10/12/1990
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

Piglet and the gang are sent chasing a top secret French-developed radar-cloaking system across the English countryside - unfortunately, both the Swedes and Americans are sticking their oars in!

7 A Private Member's Bill
Episode S1-7, first aired 10/19/1990
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

When a leading politician advocates the merging of MI5 and MI6 under the control of Special Branch, Piglet, Lewis, Dexter and Flint are sent out to thwart his plans by discrediting him.

8 The Wright Stuff
Episode S2-1, first aired 05/03/1991
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

Dexter's compiling his memoirs - largely fictional - and intends to have them published one day. However, a former Assistant Director General of the service is about to have his own book published: and Peter's wife works for the publisher.

9 Red Spy at Night
Episode S2-2, first aired 05/10/1991
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

Drummond is more than a little surprised when an agent, buried 12 years ago, rings his front door bell at 11pm with a list of KGB informants and spies. However, he's delighted to find Maxwell's name on the list, and puts Piglet and Dexter on the case immediately. Could it possibly be true?

10 Piglet in a Trough
Episode S2-3, first aired 05/17/1991
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

Piglet's on a downward spiral: drinking, gambling, money troubles, and constantly cocking up at work. Thankfully, it's all a ruse between him and Drummond - unfortunately, it's because further information has come to light regarding Major Maxwell.

11 The Wrong Combination
Episode S2-4, first aired 05/24/1991
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

After a training exercise goes disastrously wrong, Maxwell is talked into a bet with one of the boys at MI6. He arranges to spring a safe-breaker from prison to assist in the task, but all is not quite as it seems and Piglet ends up in the thick of it.

12 Trouble with Reception
Episode S2-5, first aired 05/31/1991
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

Drummond decides that a reception at the Bishwani Embassy would be a good opportunity to bug the ambassador's office. Unfortunately for the MI5 team, a guerilla group choose that night to make demands of their home Government.

13 The Hunt for Red Decoder
Episode S2-6, first aired 06/07/1991
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

MI5 have a spot of luck in liberating a highly sensitive encoding/decoding machine from a Soviet submarine - they're less able, however, to get it to work. As MI5 and the KGB chase the device across England, a Chapman finally has some luck with the machine - but it's not Peter!

14 Under Cover Activity
Episode S2-7, first aired 06/14/1991
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

Piglet is embroiled in a blackmail case when Drummond enlists him to help entrap a Russian agent. If it goes wrong his marriage could be in danger, but it seems really rather a simple affair.

15 Guerillas in the Mist
Episode S3-1, first aired 03/29/1992
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

A bit of casual reconnaissance work for Piglet, Lewis and Dexter goes disastrously wrong when the target turns out to be an old friend of Drummond's - now quite mad and intent on blowing up the Channel Tunnel!

16 Sweet and Sour Piglet
Episode S3-2, first aired 04/05/1992
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

It's the MI5 - MI6 annual grudge match cricket game, and Maxwell's department have drawn the short straw and must compete. Meanwhile, spies from China are preparing their own scheme to do their worst to MI5's finest, and have given one agent extensive plastic surgery to become Peter's exact double.

17 Sex, Spies and Videotape
Episode S3-3, first aired 04/12/1992
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

Flint suffers an attempted mugging on the street near her home, and falls for the handsome stranger who comes to her aid. Meanwhile, Piglet is given permission to tell Sarah who his employer really is, as the department is involved in filming a recruitment video to engage the public.

18 In Which We Serve
Episode S3-4, first aired 04/19/1992
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

Peter and the rest of the department are on the trail of a French agent. The operation takes them to a hotel hosting an industry conference.

19 The Plane Truth
Episode S3-5, first aired 04/26/1992
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

When two soviet aircraft designers defect in quick succession, Piglet's technical knowledge - and a passing interest in plane design - places him as the best candidate to assess the men and work out who's their best source.

20 Under New Management
Episode S3-6, first aired 05/03/1992
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

The department is thrown into disarray when Maxwell brings in a new chief, pushing Drummond down the pecking order: a brash, no-nonsense northern woman. The sackings commence quickly, but Piglet and Drummond don't intend to simply roll over.

21 With Friends Like These
Episode S3-7, first aired 05/10/1992
Director: Robin Carr
Writers: Paul Minett, Brian Leveson

Faced with mounting cutbacks from their respective governments, MI5 and the KGB are forced to collaborate in order to prove their worth. Is the staged kidnap of a senior Russian minister really wise?

MY COMMENTS

     I first saw most of the first episode several years ago on, I believe, YouTube and planned on watching more because I loved the humor and the mickey it played on the whole British Intelligence community. Then I promptly forgot my promise to myself.
     When I decided it was time to enter this series into the compendium, I remedied my earlier error and watched a bunch. I hope to have time for the rest of the episodes. I really get a hoot out of Piglet.
     One thing I loved about it was the fact that while the MI5 team is shown over and over to be totally out of their elements when it comes to anything even slightly tech-ish, Peter Chapman is himself quite a fish out of water when it comes to spycraft. Watching both sides slowly move towards the middle, and failing usually, is a lot of fun.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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