This version of The Thirty Nine Steps was a full on period version of John Buchan’s classic novel. It is just prior to the outbreak of World War One and Richard Hannay is plunged headlong into a world of secret service agents and attacks on his life when a notebook with proof of a German spy ring working out of Scotland, falls into his hands.
On the run accused of a murder he didn’t commit, Hannay heads to Scotland to try and get to the bottom of events, uncover the spy ring and prove his innocence in the process. He teams up with suffragette Victoria Sinclair who helps him not only decipher the notebook but also helps him to realise just what is going on.
One of the great adventure novels is here given a lavish, expensive treatment, with a leading role for the suave Rupert Penry-Jones.
The 39 Steps has actually been produced several times, not least by Hitchcock with his modern day (1935 as was) Robert Donat starring version as well as an under rated Kenneth More 1959 version (again not period) and also with a late seventies Robert Powell version which took things back to their period roots and stayed pretty faithful to the novel. Powell would later revisit the character in the late 1980’s series Hannay.
UK / BBC-1 / 1×120 minute episode / Broadcast 28 December 2008
Writer: Lizzie Mickery / Producer: Lynn Horsford / Director: James Hawes
RUPERT PENRY-JONES as Richard Hannay
ALEX JENNINGS as Captain Kell
PATRICK MALAHIDE as Professor Fisher
EDDIE MARSAN as Scudder
PATRICK KENNEDY as Harry Sinclair
LYDIA LEONARD as Victoria Sinclair
DAVID HAIG as Sir George Sinclair
DEL SYNOTT as constable
ADAM SMITH as Castle Soldier
SEAN KANE as Policeman
STEPHEN ELDER as The Vicar
WERNER DAEHN as Ackerman
PETER STARK as Engel