Series 1
First Principles
A Proper Function of Government
Is Your Journey Really Necessary?
The Most Suitable Person
Always Glad to Help
A Feasible Solution
Special Relationship

Series 2
At All Costs
Enough of Ghosts
Decision by Committee
A Question of Loyalty
It Couldn't Happen Here
Operation Kingmaker

Series 3
All in a Good Cause
To Hell With Justice
Unusual Approach
My Name is Anna Wiseman
Sometimes We Play Dirty Too
Who Needs Enemies
Opposite Numbers

First Principles
‘If you want ‘James Bond’ go to your library.’

The series begins with a middle-aged gentleman taking public transportation to work in the busy metropolis of London. He reacts to something off camera, then continues to his office. Upon his arrival at work, we learn he’s the Director of Operations of MI6.

His name is Neil Burnside.

It is revealed that the fledgling Norwegian secret service is trailing British spies for practice. The head of their secret service asks for Burnside's help when a spy plane is forced down inside the USSR after a bird strike. Against his better judgment, Burnside is made to mount a rescue into the most militarized part of Northern Europe--the Kola Peninsula.

This is the first episode, and the dialogue of some early scenes is forgivably expository as characters are introduced, along with the power relationships between them. A viewer who saw only this episode would have quite a different impression of Burnside from that which emerges.

There's nothing in First Principles to suggest Burnside's ruthlessness and duplicity. Here he just comes across as put upon, frustrated and somewhat mouthy.

The episode really imparts only one of the main themes of The Sandbaggers, but it's an important one: that special agents aren't at all like James Bond. The Sandbaggers spend most of their time 'moving papers from in tray to out tray' and 'don't have magical powers'.

Forget James Bond, the Sandbaggers are human enough to get scared and even sick to their stomachs with fear when they realize they may end up in Lubyanka if they are caught inside the Soviet Union.

Seventies Style
Lars Torvig seems to prefer tweed hats that have been stepped on. Ross has a garish tartan tie that re-appears in a future episode, Always Glad to Help except that then, he’s also wearing white socks, a hideous no-no with a dark suit.

Episode trivia
This episode contains the one single explosion in the series. The entire first season cast is introduced with the exceptions of Landy and Laura. The show also benefits from Mackintosh's love and knowledge of airplanes.

What happens when a bird hits a plane? See for yourself (WMV).