Cambridge Spies

Season 1, Episode 2 of 4

The clouds are gathering over Europe. Now is the time to act. But the four must still wait. Their job now is to disavow their pasts: if they are to be effective instruments of the Party, if they are to excel in the fight against Fascism, they must go underground. Bury their pasts. Blend in. Become part of the establishment. Become actively right-wing. Then - clandestine, hidden, undetectable - their real fight can begin. Only then will they truly be spies. The BBC, the Reform Club, the Civil Service, Fleet Street: one by one, Burgess, Maclean, Philby and Blunt set out to become fully paid-up members of the elite governing classes. Blunt exploits his family connections to the Royal Family. Maclean exploits his family connections and joins the Foreign Office. Burgess contrives membership for himself and Philby to the ultra-right-wing, pro-Hitler Anglo-German Fellowship. Boisterous, colourful, witty, Burgess makes an enduring impression which serves him well. Through his connections, he gains access to MI5 and an entree into another kind of secret society. The four are doing well, but their successful efforts are not without severe personal cost. Since Cambridge, Burgess has adored the beautiful and passionate Julian BELL, son of Vanessa, nephew of Virginia Woolf. Despite the fact that Blunt has been having an on-off relationship with Bell for the past few years, Burgess has remained deeply in love with and committed to this boy - this emblem of youthful idealism, this committed anti- Fascist. Bell is going to Spain: he wants to fight Franco, to fight Fascism first-hand. And he needs Burgess's support - his old friend, his ally. Burgess refuses him, turns his back on him, denies him. It is heart-breaking, and an ignominious act of betrayal from which Burgess will struggle to recover. He cannot reveal to Bell the one truth which would redeem him: that his hatred of Fascism is even greater than his beloved's. Philby's limits are also further tested: he is sent to Spain, as a pro-German, right-wing journalist. He sees for himself the extent of German support for Franco's forces, but he is allowed to report none of it. Instead, he must sing the praises of the Nationalists and, in secret, pass on information about German activities to his Soviet contact in England, Otto. Otto's mixture of anti-Fascist, pro-Communist idealism with real-life pragmatism and old-world wisdom has endeared him to the four embryo spies. Then Otto sends Burgess to Spain with a directive for Philby from Moscow; assassinate Franco. If he does, he may save Spain - and possibly even Europe - from the rapid encroachment of Fascism. He will also surely be killed. Philby must decide, once again, between his commitment to the Cause and his aspirations for his own life. This time, he chooses Life. And in so doing, he ensures Otto's execution. Philby has survived to go on to greater things. Otto is sacrificed. After witnessing the grotesque tragedy of the bombing of innocent civilians at Guernica, Philby leaves Spain, sickened by the falsehoods he has been forced to write in the name of burying his past, but also fired up to move forward. He is ready for anything now. He is ready to take the struggle to the very heart of national government. And then, a massive blow: Stalin signs a non-aggression pact with Hitler. The four feel bitterly disappointed. Betrayed. The world turned upside down. Again.

Previously Aired

2:57 p.m.
11 p.m.
12:55 p.m.
6:55 p.m.
3:55 a.m.
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