Radio 4 is dramatising John le Carré’s eight Smiley novels beginning this Saturday (23 May) with Call for the Dead. The dramatisations will run throughout 2009 and into 2010.Call for the Dead is on at 2.30pm Saturday 23 May for 90 minutes. The cast also includes Kenneth Cranham, Eleanor Bron and Anna Chancellor. The Radio 4 programme information is here.
The transmission dates are: A Murder of Quality, Saturday Play 30 May; The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Classic Serial 5, 12 and 19 July; The Looking Glass War, Classic Serial 20 and 27 September; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Classic Serial 29 November, 6 and 13 December; The Honourable Schoolboy, Classic Serial 24 and 31 January, 7 February; Smiley's People, Classic Serial April 2010; and The Secret Pilgrim, 2010.
Simon Russell Beale will play spymaster George Smiley, who first appears in Call for the Dead - published in 1961 as the Berlin Wall went up - as a security officer in The Department. In later books Smiley works for The Circus. He is described as a bespectacled, tubby, eternally middle-aged, deceptively ordinary, constantly cuckolded, morally perplexed and steel-trap-minded man, possessing "the cunning of Satan and the conscience of a virgin".
John le Carré said: "Simon Russell Beale is unique. No living actor can match his understanding of language, or his interpretation of character. He will make a superb Smiley, and I feel deeply honoured."
There is a 2008 interview with Simon Russell Beale at the National Theatre website all about books.