The Radio Times logo

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

  • Drama
  • 2011
  • Tomas Alfredson
  • 122 mins
  • 15


Spy thriller adapted from John le Carré's novel and based on the classic television series, starring Gary Oldman and Colin Firth. After a mission goes wrong and an agent is shot, information is received that a Soviet mole is operating at the heart of the British secret service. Veteran operative George Smiley is called out of retirement to try to uncover the spy and he soon discovers that you can trust no one - not even those closest to you.



A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Admirers of the BBC's 1979 TV series might think it foolish to make a feature film of John le Carré's novel in the first place, let alone give it to Tomas Alfredson, the Swedish director of cult horror Let the Right One In. But this period thriller features great performances and terrific Cold War detail, as retired spy George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is brought back to the secret service after the death of a colleague (John Hurt), who claimed to have evidence of a deep-cover Russian agent. But who is it? On the page and on TV, such intrigue had time to smoulder, but in the course of two hours the plot points whizz past at a bewildering rate, pausing only for cryptic close-ups of the major suspects (Ciarán Hinds, Colin Firth, Toby Jones and David Dencik). The cast and set dressing are all first class, superbly capturing a weary point in recent British history, but there's a sketchiness to the characters that makes it hard to root for Smiley, let alone ponder the motives of the mysterious mole.

How to watch





George SmileyGary Oldman
Bill HaydonColin Firth
Peter GuillamBenedict Cumberbatch
Jim PrideauxMark Strong
Percy AllelineToby Jones
Ricki TarrTom Hardy
ControlJohn Hurt
Roy BlandCiaran Hinds
EsterhaseDavid Dencik
Connie SachsKathy Burke
MendelRoger Lloyd Pack
Jerry WesterbyStephen Graham
Oliver LaconSimon McBurney
PolyakovKonstantin Khabensky
Ann SmileyKatrina Vasilieva
MackelvoreChristian McKay
IrinaSvetlana Khodchenkova
Tufty ThesingerPhilip Martin Brown


DirectorTomas Alfredson


Theatrical distributor
Optimum Releasing
Released on
Violence, swearing, sex scenes.
Available on
DVD and Blu-ray
Advertisement is getting better. Fresh new look, redesigned programme hub, richer content…


Sponsored content