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The Sandbaggers (ITV Drama, Roy Marsden, Ray Lonnen)

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The Sandbaggers ITV Drama, Roy Marsden, Sue Holderness

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 (Roy 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 spies 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.

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

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

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