Harry's Game

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For the Clannad song, see Theme from Harry's Game.
Harry's Game
Format Drama
Starring Ray Lonnen
Derek Thompson
Music by Clannad
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Original channel ITV
Original run

25 October 1982 –
27 October 1982

Last aired 17 October 2011
Running time 180 minutes
No. of episodes 3

Harry's Game is a British television miniseries made by Yorkshire Television for ITV in 1982. It is based on the novel of the same name by Gerald Seymour, which was published in 1975.

The three-part serial starred Ray Lonnen as Captain Harry Brown, a British soldier sent undercover to Northern Ireland to find information to arrest Billy Downes (Derek Thompson), a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) gunman. The theme tune was performed by Clannad and was successfully released as a single, reaching the top five in both Ireland and the United Kingdom and bringing Clannad its first major international exposure.


The story begins with British government cabinet minister Henry Danby being shot dead by an IRA gunman, Billy Downes, in front of his wife and children as he's leaving for work. Downes then escapes to Belfast and army officer Harry Brown is sent undercover into Belfast's Catholic community to track down the assassin. Brown is chosen for the mission because he is an Ulsterman who had previously done similar work in Oman.

Given the cover identity of merchant seaman Harry McEvoy, he finds lodgings in the Falls Road area, and secures a job in a scrapyard. He dates a Catholic Josephine Laverty and unknowingly encounters Downes in a local club, which is raided by the British Army. A British soldier recognises Harry, but ignores him and arrests Downes, who is interrogated but set free. Harry tips off his superiors that the killer was at the club and Theresa a girl whose family home Billy stayed the night at while on the run knows his name. Theresa is arrested, but caught between the police interrogator Rennie and her fear of the IRA if she talks, she hangs herself in prison before revealing Downes' identity. When Josephine realises Harry must have passed on the information about Theresa, she tells him to leave while he can, but he refuses, saying Danby's killer cannot be allowed to get away with it.

News of Harry's presence in Belfast is reported to the IRA by a waiter who overheard two army officers discussing it at his restaurant, and the local IRA boss starts checking all new arrivals, including Harry.

The IRA start to hunt Harry down. With two other gunmen, Downes ambushes Harry, who shoots the gunmen and forces a passing driver to chase their car as Downes escapes. Harry follows Downes to his own home, which is under surveillance by the army. Harry shoots Downes in the street in front of his wife, and is himself shot by the soldiers watching the house, who think he is a terrorist. Injured and bleeding in the street, Harry is confronted by Downes's wife, who then shoots him in the head using Harry's own revolver.

The film closes with a narrator reading a part of a poem written by the daughter of an IRA victim (William Staunton, a 46 year-old Catholic shot dead by the IRA on 25 January 1973, near Saint Dominic's School, Falls Road): "Don't cry, Mummy said. They're not real, but Daddy was, and he's not here. Don't be bitter, Mummy said. They've hurt themselves much more. They can walk and run, Daddy can't".


Much of Harry's Game was not shot on the streets of Belfast, but rather in Leeds, England. Yorkshire Television filmed most of the scenes in a now-demolished housing district in Burley, which was adjacent to its Leeds studios.

The footage filmed in Belfast includes shots of the Falls Road and the city, including the scene where Harry is frisked on entry to the city centre (there was a permanent checkpoint for pedestrians there for many years), whilst some of the final scenes overlooking the cityscape took place in Holywood, County Down and close to the military/MI5 barracks. Scenes were also filmed in south of County Dublin including the Ballybrack area.

Broadcast and distribution history[edit]

The serial was originally screened on the ITV network as three 52-to-54 minute episodes over consecutive nights from 25 to 27 October 1982, and was later edited into a single 130 minute programme titled Harry's Game - The Movie. While Clannad's theme tune for it became their breakthrough hit, the film itself was not widely seen in the US or widely available on video, although it appeared in Canada titled Belfast Assassin. The original, unedited three-part serial was released on DVD in the United Kingdom in 2005.

In 1997, a film called The Informant was released with Timothy Dalton as Rennie, and Sean McGinley as Frankie. This film was based on Field of Blood, also by Seymour. The character of Rennie also appeared in Seymour's book The Journeyman Tailor.


External links[edit]