SGAG Logo

SIMON BOGNOR

bognor_simon_bk_lsdl bognor_simon_bk_jd bognor_simon_bk_bu bognor_simon_bk_btb bognor_simon_bk_uh bognor_simon_bk_mamj bognor_simon_tv_b bognor_simon_bk_patp bognor_simon_bk_d bognor_simon_bk_m bognor_simon_bk_bbwo bognor_simon_bk_yadiv bognor_simon_bk_rh bognor_simon_bk_dioc
 
Full Name: Simon Bognor
Nationality: British
Organization: Board of Trade
Occupation Agent

Creator: Tim Heald
Time Span: 1973 - 2014

ABOUT THE SERIES

Simon Bognor is an agent with the British Board of Trade.

According to Wikipedia's entry on this organization, it is "a British government body concerned with commerce and industry" which would at first inspection not be something fitting for this compendium, even with the added clause "currently with the Department for International Trade especially since that last part is only true as of 2016 and the adventures we have for Bognor start back in 1973.

However, he does in truth have a place among those who either are spies or have to deal with them consistently because Bognor is the fellow whose shoulder is tapped when something needs investigating which ends up involving cloak and dagger issues. 

And considering that a country's trade inescapably will involve import and and export of an impressively broad category of items, the chances for skullduggery are ever present and constantly being taken advantage of. Secret things which should not leave the country are routinely smuggled aboard ships and planes and cars on ferries. Unpleasant items and people who are not wanted in the country get in nevertheless via these same methods, often hidden in containers marked as "farm machinery" or something similarly innocuous. Confidential trade secrets are often not kept so confidential.

And poor Bognor is the man who is forced to leave his comfortable office to go to all manner of unpleasant (to him) places and deal with all manner of un-nice things. It is easy to that why Bognor is particularly pleased about such things.

Then again, "Simon Bognor was not happy with his latest assignment. There was nothing unusual in this since he had never yet been happy with his latest assignment." That is an observation made about him by the narrator in one of the earlier recorded adventures. It might have been more accurate to state he was never happy "with any of his assignments". When it comes to work, it could be said that Bognor was never happy unless he was unhappy.

"It was not the first time that Bognor had wondered what he was doing with his life. He wondered about it daily, sometimes hourly, and invariably he came to the conclusion that he was wasting it. Ever since the interview at Oxford when he had foolishly allowed himself to be deflected from a sensible, routine application for some Civil Service posting into what was laughingly called 'intelligence'; ever since then things had gone wrong. He wasn't cut out for it, and his superiors, realizing this, had not, as they should have done, asked for him to be transferred or even sacked. Instead they had fobbed him off with absurdities in the hope that he would thus stay out of trouble. Alas, it meant no such thing. The more absurd and low-key his assignment, the more trouble he attracted."

Bognor answers to a poor chap named Parkinson in the Special Investigations Department at the Board of Trade and it must be wondered if after a while Bognor got these assignments out of a conviction that he would pull required rabbits out of his hat or because these out-of-the-office missions invariably got his just that: out of the office.

We follow Bognor on a good number of assignments spanning a good number of years. The first one comes when Bognor had already been with the BoT for three years. We learn a bit how Bognor mind works when it is revealed in the second paragraph of the initial adventure that he "had arrived for work early that morning looking forward to lunch at the club, mindful as ever of the idiocy of his job".

For all his frumpy, out-of-shape, largely lazy, and generally unhappy about most things, Bognor does have an interesting love life. Initially he has a love interest named Monica of whom it was said that "he was fond of Monica. She had been his regular girl-friend now for more years than he cared to remember and, as both of them were emotionally lazy but sexually quite keen, the arrangement worked rather well." In the first tale we are told "they both assumed that eventually they would get married, though the subject was never mentioned". After a while it would be talked about and it would take place so whenever Bognor needed someone to listen to his many complaints, she was there. And there were always complaints.

BOOKS

Number of Books:14
First Appearance:1973
Last Appearance:2014

1 Unbecoming Habits Unbecoming Habits
Written by Tim Heald
Copyright: 1973

"As the friars of the abbey gather for group prayer, Brother Luke stays in the garden. His tardiness is not due to an overenthusiasm for his potatoes, but to the fact that he is lying facedown in the dirt, strangled to death by his own crucifix. For Simon Bognor, this will prove inconvenient. A special investigator attached to the British Board of Trade, Bognor knows that Brother Luke was an undercover agent, come to look into charges of national agriculture secrets being smuggled across the Iron Curtain in jars of the abbey’s famous honey. Someone killed to protect the apiary espionage, and Bognor assumes with irritation that whoever did it will kill again. A portly desk jockey with a bad eye for detail and no experience with danger in the field, Bognor approaches the abbey hesitantly, certain that among these lambs of God lurks a wolf with a taste for blood."
buy from Amazon

2 Blue Blood Will Out Blue Blood Will Out
Written by Tim Heald
Copyright: 1974

"At a for-profit ancestral pile, Bognor seeks an earl-killing sniperAs real estate moguls slice and dice the great properties of the English countryside, the rambling grounds of Abney House are kept intact by being turned into a sort of theme park of the aristocracy for the public complete with cafeteria, sailing museum, and safari-themed shooting gallery. But the theme isn't complete until a visiting earl is felled by a sniper's bullet, giving Abney House what every manor needs: a blue-blooded murder. Normally this killing would not fall under the jurisdiction of Board of Trade investigator Simon Bognor, but the downed earl was tied up in a top-secret international exchange, and the killing may have had a political motive. As Bognor settles into life at the old estate, he is forced to decide which will be more dangerous: the sharpshooting assassin, or the tedious aristocratic company."
buy from Amazon

3 Deadline Deadline
Written by Tim Heald
Copyright: 1975

To learn who killed a loathsome gossip columnist, Bognor joins the paper. "Staggering homeward from a banquet, St. John Derby decides it would be easier to stagger back to work instead. When he reaches his desk, the booze-addled gossip columnist treats himself to a massive tumbler of port and calls for a taxi. By the time the cab arrives, the port is spilled on the carpet, mingling with the blood leaking from Derby’s cut throat. No one will mourn his death. Special investigator Simon Bognor is dispatched to get the scoop on who finished off the sodden old scribe. Journalism is not Bognor’s field—in fact, he can barely type—and the tame missives that pepper the paper’s gossip section strike him as too boring to kill for. But as he pokes around the daily newspaper’s offices, he finds quite the story indeed—one that will either land him on the front page, or among the obituaries."
buy from Amazon

4 Let Sleeping Dogs Lie Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Written by Tim Heald
Copyright: 1976

"As an employee of the Special Investigations Department of the Board of Trade, Bognor is assigned — and he’s not happy about it as he is never happy about his assignments — to investigate charges that an international gang is smuggling dogs out of England and back in again to take part in shows and breeding. In this way, the dogs do not have to undergo quarantine on their return to England as required by law. Not only does Bognor not like the assignment, he also has another problem: He loathes dogs. Indeed, “He had been known to kick out at perfectly inoffensive animals when the owners weren’t looking.” Nonetheless he starts visiting kennels and dog shows; at the end he likes dogs even less than he did."
buy from Amazon

5 Just Desserts Just Desserts
Written by Tim Heald
Copyright: 1977

"When a restaurateur dies suspiciously, Bognor is forced to eat his way to the truth. Dinner service is over, the staff has left, and Escoffier Savarin Smith is about to tuck into a couple of bottles of champagne. He seals the windows with electrical tape, fiddles with a canister of gas, and begins to drink. When his staff arrives the next morning to open the restaurant, the champagne is drunk, the air has been poisoned, and the greatest chef in England is dead—seemingly by his own hand. For Board of Trade investigator Simon Bognor, this is a crushing blow. Although he moves through life in a permanent state of near-bafflement, Bognor knows his way around a restaurant, and Smith’s was the finest in Britain. It was also a clearinghouse for international espionage, which may have led to the chef’s peculiar demise. Although usually hesitant to put himself in danger, for once Bognor is unafraid. After all, there are great meals at stake."
buy from Amazon

6 Murder At Moose Jaw Murder At Moose Jaw
Written by Tim Heald
Copyright: 1981

"Bognor braves the frost to discover who has murdered Canada’s richest man. In his lavish private train car, Sir Roderick Farquhar draws a bath. When it has been filled to his satisfaction, the portly captain of industry tips in three drops of bath oil and lowers himself into the steam. Within seconds, the poison in the oil has stopped his heart and ruined Simon Bognor’s winter. A special investigator for Britain’s Board of Trade, Bognor makes the mistake of believing a Canadian friend’s assurances that Toronto is never cold in November. He is coatless and shivering when he learns the news about Farquhar, an unsavory businessman whom the Board of Trade had previously suspected of drug smuggling, identity fraud, and worse. Sir Roderick had ties to organized crime, pro-Nazi groups, and Amtrak, and Bognor will have to determine which faction poisoned the man’s bath—or shiver to death trying."
buy from Amazon

7 Masterstroke Masterstroke
aka Small Masterpiece
Written by Tim Heald
Copyright: 1982

"After a boozy Oxford reunion, Bognor is distressed to learn one of his classmates is a killer. Nothing depresses Simon Bognor like a university reunion. Every pimply-faced boy he knew two decades prior has made something of himself, while Bognor languishes at the Board of Trade, muddling along in an investigatory position for which he is hideously unqualified. Although more often than not his job requires catching murderers, he lacks even the observational powers to notice when the head of his old college has been poisoned. Both quite drunk, they totter off to their respective beds. Bognor makes it, but the master doesn’t – he collapses dead at the top of the stairs. Due to the dead man’s ties to the government, Bognor is asked to sort out who did him in. At long last he has the opportunity to prove himself at his old college—but Bognor knows it is just as likely that he will end up in the dunce’s cap."
buy from Amazon

8 Red Herrings Red Herrings
Written by Tim Heald
Copyright: 1985

"An ancient country custom goes awry, killing a man and spoiling Bognor's holiday. At the annual Clout, the men of Herring do as they have done for centuries, firing arrows blindly into the woods and allowing their women to retrieve what they have shot. Nobody ever kills anything, but it's a jolly time nonetheless - until the day when a few of the arrows find their mark, pinning a wayward customs inspector to a tree in a bloody parody of Saint Sebastian. It's rotten luck for the dead man, and not much better for Simon Bognor. Bognor huffs when he hears of the killing, knowing that he is going to be sucked into investigating the death."
buy from Amazon

9 Brought To Book Brought To Book
Written by Tim Heald
Copyright: 1988

"Simon Bognor tries to understand how a publishing magnate could have been crushed by smut. Before retiring for the night, Vernon Hemlock pours a brandy, lights a cigar, and takes a look at his cache of pornography. Far more than a wad of dirty magazines stashed under a mattress, this is a collection of some of the world's finest erotica, dating back as far as a dirty doodle drawn by da Vinci. The millionaire publisher is perusing the Swedish section when the shelves begin to move. By the time he notices the walls closing in on him, it is too late. Vernon Hemlock has been flattened by filth. This would not normally bother Simon Bognor, but he fears it will be bad news for his book deal. A stridently lazy Board of Trade investigator, Bognor stumbled his way into a handshake deal with Hemlock to write a kind of memoir. With his publisher dead, Bognor has no choice but to find the man who squashed the king of porn and confront his own greatest fear: hard work."
buy from Amazon

10 Business Unusual Business Unusual
Written by Tim Heald
Copyright: 1989

"English politicians love to prattle on about the honest mettle of towns like Scarpington—mid-sized cities full of ugly buildings, ugly people, and a surfeit of wholesome values. In hopes of learning more about just what the nation’s heartland is up to, the Board of Trade orders special investigator Simon Bognor to relocate to Scarpington and not to return until he knows what makes the place tick. It does not take long for him to find the answer. Like everywhere else he’s ever visited, Scarpington runs on a toxic mixture of greed, sex, and murder. Bognor is sitting in on the meeting of the local Artisans’ Lodge when the keynote speaker keels over dead. Bognor has seen enough murder to know it on sight. As he looks for the culprit, he discovers dark secrets beneath Scarpington’s homely facade—and a civic character that would horrify even the most depraved of politicians."
buy from Amazon

11 Death In The Opening Chapter Death In The Opening Chapter
Written by Tim Heald
Copyright: 2011

"On the eve of the Flanagan Fludd Literary Festival, the Reverend Sebastian Fludd is discovered gently swinging from the end of a rope in his own church. While Sebastian's cousin and lord of the manor, Sir Branwell Fludd, is keen to wrap up the affair with the minimum of fuss, Branwell's friend, Sir Simon Bognor, is more concerned to get to the truth. Did the mild-mannered vicar really take his own life - or was his unexpected demise the result of something more sinister?"

12 Poison At The Pueblo Poison At The Pueblo
Written by Tim Heald
Copyright: 2011

"At an exclusive language school in the hills outside Salamanca, former British gangster Jimmy Trubshawe is discovered flat on his back in his luxury cabin, clad only in boxer shorts and white socks, his face an unattractive shade of purple. He is, of course, extremely dead. The cause is soon established as the ingestion of poisonous mushrooms. But was the unfortunate Trubshawe's fatal meal an accident - or murder? Alerted by his contacts in the Spanish Guardia Civil, Sir Simon Bognor decides it's his business to find out . . ."

13 Yet Another Death In Venice Yet Another Death In Venice
Written by Tim Heald
Copyright: 2014

"Flush with cash from the success of his latest insipid blockbuster, aspiring film mogul Irving Silverburger takes to Venice to soak himself in luxury. Instead, he is quickly soaked in blood. Cruising down the canal in a vaporetto, Silverburger is shot with a crossbow, killed by a Harlequin who disappears into the masquerade of Carnival. Unmasking the disguised assassin falls to Simon Bognor, a British Board of Trade detective whose natural sloth did not prevent him from stumbling backward into knighthood-an honor that fits just as poorly as his ill-tailored clothes. If he ever had a prime, he is long past it now, but Bognor must rally once more to penetrate the mysteries of an ancient city at festival time, when the killers are not the only ones in disguise."
buy from Amazon

TELEVISION


Number of Episodes:21
First Appearance:1981
Last Appearance:1982
Network:ITV

REGULAR CAST
David HorovitchSimon Bognor [ 1-2 ]
Joanna McCallumMonica [ 1-2 ]
Ewan RobertsParkinson [ 1-2 ]
1 Unbecoming Habits: Part 1 - Collingdale's Dead
Episode S1-1, first aired 02/10/1981
Director: Robert Tronson
Writer: T. R. Bowen

After his colleague Collingdale is killed hunting for a double agent selling British agricultural formulas to the Russians, Bognor is sent to replace him.

2 Unbecoming Habits: Part 2 - Batty Tom
Episode S1-2, first aired 02/12/1981
Director: Robert Tronson
Writer: T. R. Bowen

After surviving an attempt on his life, Bognor strikes up a friendship with an unusual monk called Xavier. Meanwhile, the local madman, Batty Tom informs him he might have seen the murderer.

3 Unbecoming Habits: Part 3 - The Cross Country Monk
Episode S1-3, first aired 02/17/1981
Director: Robert Tronson
Writer: T. R. Bowen

Batty Tom turns up dead and so does a letter supposedly written by him in which he confesses to the murder of Collingdale. Bognor is not convinced especially after noticing suspicious goings-on in a mysterious locked room in the shed.

4 Unbecoming Habits: Part 4 - Lord Dismiss Us
Episode S1-4, first aired 02/19/1981
Director: Robert Tronson
Writer: T. R. Bowen

Even after solving the mysteries of the running monk and the locked backroom, Bognor's troubles are not over, especially after Batty Tom's father, Lord Collingwood, shows up and blows his cover.

5 Unbecoming Habits: Part 5 - Keeping Up with the Jones
Episode S1-5, first aired 02/24/1981
Director: Robert Tronson
Writer: T. R. Bowen

Bognor is suspicious when he learns that one of the monastery's regular visitors, a schoolmaster called Jones, is actually the high-level civil servant Graymer Burton.

6 Unbecoming Habits: Part 6 - Making a Bog of It
Episode S1-6, first aired 02/26/1981
Director: Robert Tronson
Writer: T. R. Bowen

Unmasked, the killer gives Bognor the slip and a cross-country chase ensues.

7 Deadline: Part 1 - They Don't Make Them Like That Any More
Episode S1-7, first aired 03/03/1981
Director: Carol Wiseman
Writer: T. R. Bowen

After the murder of a newspaper editor, Bognor is sent undercover to his press room to try and find his killer.

8 Deadline: Part 2 - Who Goes Home?
Episode S1-8, first aired 03/05/1981
Director: Carol Wiseman
Writer: T. R. Bowen

While nursing a nasty bruise, Bognor has to find his nightly assailant, find the clue in an ominous poem, and deal with a suspicious journalistic union official.

9 Deadline: Part 3 - There Comes No Answer
Episode S1-9, first aired 03/10/1981
Director: Carol Wiseman
Writer: T. R. Bowen

Bognor gets drunk at a political party event and meets up with an old Oxford pal. Meanwhile, Port gets into a fight with Gringe after Gringe accuses him of being a Russian spy.

10 Deadline: Part 4 - The Cricketer's Almanac
Episode S1-10, first aired 03/12/1981
Director: Carol Wiseman
Writer: T. R. Bowen

Bognor follows Gringe to a rundown motel while Monica helps him solve the dying man's poetic clue with the help of a painting and the 1932 edition of the Wisden's Cricketer's Almanac.

11 Deadline: Part 5 - Good Luck Willy
Episode S1-11, first aired 03/17/1981
Director: Carol Wiseman
Writer: T. R. Bowen

A drunken debacle at a rugby game leads to Bognor having a revealing heart-to-heart with Eric Gringe. Meanwhile, Monica begins suspecting he's having an affair with Molly.

12 Deadline: Part 6 - Hard Cheese on Eric
Episode S1-12, first aired 03/19/1981
Director: Carol Wiseman
Writer: T. R. Bowen

Flanders arrests his prime suspect, but Bognor, who's just survived a poisoning attempt, suspects the secret behind the killer's true identity may be in a secret merger agreement.

13 Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: Part 1 - Dog's Dinner
Episode S1-13, first aired 03/24/1981
Director: Neville Green
Writer: Carey Harrison

Bognor is assigned to investigate a dog smuggling ring after the mysterious death of a prize-winning poodle.

14 Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: Part 2 - A Handful of Ashes
Episode S1-14, first aired 03/26/1981
Director: Neville Green
Writer: Carey Harrison

With his chief informant down with rabies, Bognor travels to the countryside where he tries to find the corpse of the dog he suspects was murdered.

15 Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: Part 3 - Meet the Mole
Episode S1-15, first aired 03/31/1981
Director: Neville Green
Writer: Carey Harrison

Rose turns up murdered after meeting with Bognor and Coriander reveals she's a double agent for the C.I.A. - the Canine Information Agency.

16 Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: Part 4 - I Am Yellow: Memoirs of a Danish Dog Lover
Episode S1-16, first aired 04/02/1981
Director: Neville Green
Writer: Carey Harrison

Chased out of the countryside by a grumpy police inspector, Bognor travels to Denmark where he hopes to find a missing dog who can identify a certain brand of chewing gum by taste alone.

17 Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: Part 5 - Dummy Run
Episode S1-17, first aired 04/07/1981
Director: Neville Green
Writer: Carey Harrison

Bognor sets a fiendish trap for the dog smugglers.

18 Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: Part 6 - Feeding Time
Episode S1-18, first aired 04/09/1981
Director: Neville Green
Writer: Carey Harrison

Bognor travels to America where he unmasks the dog smugglers but soon finds himself being chased by a pack of specially bred hounds in his underwear.

19 Just Desserts: Part 1 - Scoff Not
Episode S2-1, first aired 03/09/1982
Director: Robert Tronson
Writer: T. R. Bowen

Bognor is assigned a safe job, trying to sell restaurateurs the idea of nationally subsidized restaurants. But his safe job turns very unsafe after one of these restaurateurs turns up dead and somehow the KGB and the CIA are involved.

20 Just Desserts: Part 2 - A Health Warning
Episode S2-2, first aired 03/16/1982
Director: Robert Tronson
Writer: T. R. Bowen

As chefs and chief suspects continue dying under mysterious circumstances, Bognor finds himself in compromising positions with a promiscuous lady and being threatened by a professional cricket player.

21 Just Desserts: Part 3 - The Fastest Cork in the West
Episode S2-3, first aired 03/23/1982
Director: Robert Tronson
Writer: T. R. Bowen

Bognor realises that the entire conspiracy revolves around wine, food guides, and industrial espionage and that the clue he needs to blow the whole thing wide open is in the raspberries.

MY COMMENTS

I remember wondering, when I first read this series back in the mid-70s, whether I would have liked the character in person. I decided I would definitely not like him but ?luckily? the feeling would have been mutual. Bognor would not have liked me. Nothing personal, though, because Bognor really did not like hardly anyone, really.

Then, while stationed in Scotland a few years later, I was able to watch the first few episodes of the television series and my feelings returned. I would definitely not have lived him in real life but watching him be so unhappy with just about everything, well, it was fun!

I held off adding Bognor to the site because I kept coming back to the fact that he worked for the Board of Trade, for goodness sake! He wasn't a spy!!

But then, after prompting from other spy-fi fans, I took another look at the sort of cases he was forced to investigate and realized, dang! He does belong.

Not that Bognor would have agreed.

GRADE

My Grade: B+

YOUR OPINIONS

Be the first to leave your own comments about this series.

Tell us what you think of the series. Give your grade and comments.

Your Grade:
Your Comments:

To give your opinion, you must be logged in.

Sign In

Register
Disclaimer
SpyGuysAndGals is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, and links with the Buy from Amazon button are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.