TV UK TV

Sandbaggers, The (ITV 1978-1980 with Roy Marsden, Ray Lonnen)

Sandbaggers

Strongly played spy drama series that told of the exploits of a tough no nonsense intelligence outfit known as The Sandbaggers. The team officially known as the Special Intelligence Service (SIS) was headed by Neil Burnside but answered to the Chief of Service known as ‘C’. The team worked mainly in what was then East and West Germany.

The team’s cases were always dangerous and were considered too risky for the local spys to take on.

The show channels into that same cold war intelligent, talky spy frame that John Le Carre inhabits, there is not much in the way of action or fisticuffs, nor showing off, just plenty of clever dialogue and strong plots. Marsden is superb in the lead role of Burnside, he is director of operations and will let nothing stand in his way when it comes to the missions is team is engaged upon.

Sandbaggers creator Ian Mackintosh went missing during a plane flight during the making of this series. Intriguingly there were rumours that he may have been working for British Intelligence at the time but it is was more likely his light airplane, carrying himself and two other passengers, simply crashed.

production details
UK / ITV – Yorkshire / 20×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 18 September 1978 – 21 July 1980 Three seasons

Creator: Ian Mackintosh / Music: Roy Budd / Producer: Michael Ferguson / Executive Producer: David Cunliffe

cast
ROY MARSDEN as Neil Burnside
RICHARD VERNON as ‘C’ (1) Sir James Greenley
DENNIS BURGESS as ‘C’ (2) John Tower Gibbs
RAY LONNEN as Willie Caine
JEROME WILLIS as Matthew Peele
BOB SHERMAN as Jeff Ross
MICHAEL CASHMAN as Mike Wallace
DIANE KEEN as Laura Dickens