An Englishman Abroad
|An Englishman Abroad|
|Written by||Alan Bennett|
|Directed by||John Schlesinger|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Running time||60 min.|
|Original channel||BBC 1|
|Original airing||November 29, 1983|
An Englishman Abroad is a 1983 BBC television drama film, based on the true story of a chance meeting of an actress, Coral Browne, with Guy Burgess (Alan Bates), a member of the Cambridge spy ring who spied for the Soviet Union while an officer at MI6. The production was written by Alan Bennett and directed by John Schlesinger; Browne stars as herself.
The film is set is Moscow in 1958, after Burgess had fled to the city following MI6's detection of his treason. Burgess barges into Browne's dressing room in the interval of a touring Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (which became one of the bases of the Royal Shakespeare Company) production of Hamlet, in which she portrayed Gertrude, and charms her. Later on she is invited to his Moscow flat, finding it with some difficulty, to measure him for a suit that he would like ordered from his London tailor.
Rather than film in the Soviet Union, Schlesinger used several locations in Scotland. The Caird Hall and Whitehall Theatre in Dundee stood in for the Moscow theatre, and the grand marble staircase of Glasgow City Chambers played the part of the British Embassy. Additional filming was done at Glasgow's St. Andrew's Suspension Bridge ("luckily, in a snowstorm" Bennett later wrote) and the Moss Heights flats in Cardonald, which represented Burgess' Moscow apartment.
Both Browne and Bates were winners of the BAFTA awards for acting for their roles in this production.
Bennett gives the date of Browne's meeting with Burgess as 1958 in the introduction to his Single Spies, which contains the text of An Englishman Abroad in the stage play version and the text of A Question of Attribution about Anthony Blunt.
The play was also adapted for radio on the BBC World Service in 1994 starring Michael Gambon as Burgess and Penelope Wilton as Coral Browne. It was subsequently re-broadcast on BBC Radio 7 and BBC Radio 4 Extra, most recently in 2013 as part of BBC Radio 4 Extra's Cambridge Spies season.
- Cambridge Spies, a 2003 BBC TV play about the Cambridge Ring
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