A Proper Function of Government
‘I do have alternative orders, sir.’
Sandbaggers One and Three are sent on a mission to Vienna to
stop a potential high-level defector. At home, Burnside attempts
to use events in an African dictatorship to his advantage.
This is one of the best episodes of the series, as well as one
of the most typical, being almost all talk and debate, with very
little action - unlike First Principles. The real politick showdown
between Wellingham and Burnside will blister the paint off your
First Principles established that secret agents aren't at all
like James Bond. This episode single handedly establishes most
of the rest of the program's principal themes: Burnside's perfidy,
The rivalry between SIS and MI5, the complex relationship between
Burnside and Wellingham, Wellingham's desire to keep the present
government in power and as always, the government's extreme desire
to avoid embarrassment.
Burnside's flat is seen for the first time. There is also the
first appearance of Sandbagger Three Alan Denson.
This episode also pre-dates a real event in British history by
several months--The defection of Sir Anthony Blunt.
This episode aired on September 25, 1978. Blunt was exposed in
It may yet be that the late Mr Blunt has more secrets to divulge,
even after his 1983 death in the USSR.
His memories are locked away at the British Library. The papers
may yet turn out to be about as exciting as Al Capone's safe,
but we shall have to wait
until 2013 to find out.