Talk:The Sandbaggers

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I really think that critical evaluation should go after the information on Mackintosh - it's better to get all the background to the series out of the way before we talk about critical reactions to it. --khaosworks 22:55, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The Ian Mackintosh section should not be placed so high up in the Sandbaggers article for three reasons: First, all the Ian Mackintosh stuff is speculative; there's a real shortage of hard facts in that section. Second, sections about aspects of the series as a whole should be placed above sections that focus narrowly on any one person associated with the series. (Thus "Appeal" outranks the Mackintosh section.) Third, and most importantly, Ian Mackintosh now has his own entry on Wikipedia. UnHommeLibre 23:39, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Fair enough. Hold off on further edits for a bit and let me take a crack at sifting out some of the info. --khaosworks 23:42, 20 Mar 2005 (UTC)


I don't like "Overview" as a section name because the whole article is, after all, an overview. Or at least it should be... Perhaps "Characters and conflicts" or something along those lines? --UnHommeLibre 00:22, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

"Series description" as a proposed replacement for "Overview" has the same problem: isn't the whole article a description of the series? Perhaps someone can think of something mildly clever. How about "Cold Warriors"? --UnHommeLibre 00:58, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I don't like starting an encyclopedic article with a "too clever" heading. That's all right for subsections, but the main header should be simply descriptive of what the article is doing as a whole. --khaosworks 01:11, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Er, surely a section header should describe its section? The main header is "The Sandbaggers" at the top of the page; the first section header should describe the first section. I like "Cold Warriors"! --UnHommeLibre 01:16, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Sorry, I was being imprecise. I mean that the main header should be simply descriptive of what the section is doing as a whole.
Understood. But my objection is that both "Overview" and "Series description" are much too broad for that first section. The first section only gives the protagonist, his motivations, the institutions and the other characters who play in the series. If not "Cold Warriors," how about "Dramatis Personae"? --UnHommeLibre 01:23, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Dramatis Personae means a cast of characters, and it's more than that. Series summary, perhaps, would be closer the mark. Or we could get rid of the header altogether. --khaosworks 01:31, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I would vote for getting rid of that "Overview" header altogether if the Table of Contents also is removed -- because then everything would flow nicely from the first paragraph into the second paragraph ("The protagonist of...") --UnHommeLibre 01:36, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
This has been taken care of; thank you! --UnHommeLibre 02:32, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Also, "Writer or spy?" as the section name for Ian Mackintosh sets up a false dichotomy. He was definitely a writer, and he might also have been a spy. Something should replace "Writer or spy?" --UnHommeLibre 01:10, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Currently reads "Series creator." At the risk of seeming overly pedantic, is there a good reason why "Series creator" is preferable to "Creator"? After all, the other sections are "Legacy," not "Series legacy"; "Format and broadcast history," not "Series format and broadcast history." (That everything is about this series is implied.) Surely no one would think "Creator" was a subsection about deities? :-) --UnHommeLibre 02:56, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Ian Mackintosh[edit]

In the Ian Mackintosh section, there needs to clarification about why he wrote just 4 of the 7 eps. (He disappeared; then the other writers were brought in). Then that needs to be worked into an explanation that the series ended on an unresolved cliffhanger because it was thought no one else could write the series as well as Ian had. UnHommeLibre 00:54, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

This has been mostly taken care of; thank you! Howerver there is now a bit of redudancy between the "Creator" section and the "Format and broadcast history" section --UnHommeLibre 01:41, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Don't think so - I removed the bit about the cliffhanger from "Creator" and transferred it to "Format". The Creator section talks about his disappearance and the "Format" section talks about the consequences to the series arising from that disappearance. --khaosworks 01:48, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Text in the "Creator" section reads, "Mackintosh wrote all of the episodes for the first two series. For the third series, Mackintosh only wrote four out of the seven episodes." This is somewhat redudant with text in the "Format" section which reads, "All of the series were written by Mackintosh, with the exception of Series Three. Mackintosh's disappearance occured after he had only written four of the scripts for that series..." I recommend finding an elegant way to consolidate all this in the "Creator" section and removing it from the "Format" section, thus sharpening the focus of the "Format" section
This has been taken care of; thank you! --UnHommeLibre 02:33, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Items to Add[edit]

New list of things that deserve at least a brief mention:

  • Sue Holderness, and the other women of The Sandbaggers
  • The wit in the dialogue -- HAS BEEN ADDED
  • The praise that's been heaped on the actors
  • The abundant abbreviations
  • The complex multilayered plots -- HAS BEEN ADDED
  • The respect the series shows for its audience, i.e. the presumption of intelligence in the viewer
  • That the series took place all over the world but all its exteriors were filmed in and around Leeds, except for a few episodes filmed on location in Malta -- HAS BEEN ADDED

--UnHommeLibre 01:55, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Series 4[edit]

Paragraph 6 currently ends with this sentence: "If the show had gone to a fourth series, it would have reportedly had Caine as head of the Special Operations Section and Burnside demoted and back in the field as a Sandbagger."

Actually, in the bonus interview on Disc 1 of the Series 3 DVD set, Ray Lonnen says the plan was for Caine to become D-Ops and for Burnside to take Peele's job.

But the problem isn't so much who would have gotten which job; the problem is that -- unless Ian's notebooks suddenly turn up -- any discussion of a fourth series is simply too speculative to include in an encyclopaedic article. (Ray Lonnen's memory was hazy and there are no good sources for hard facts about what the real plan, if any, for Series 4 was.)

I recommend removal of the last sentence of paragraph 6. --UnHommeLibre 01:55, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

This has been taken care of; thank you! --UnHommeLibre 02:30, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Introduction Rework[edit]

I'm trying to think of a better first sentence.

How about this: "The Sandbaggers is a British television drama series about the personal and professional lives of men and women who work in espionage during the Cold War. It is set contemporaneously with..."

This has the advantange of including the women of the series -- heretofore neglected -- and acknowleding the show's two great themes of personal lives (e.g. Laura Dickens being afraid of romance, Jeff Ross trying to hook Burnside up with ladies) and professional lives (e.g. Burnside trying to get more pay for the Sandbaggers, Burnside worried about his prospects for promotion). --UnHommeLibre 02:30, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Well, most of those words are there now, but the new first sentence reads awkwardly. The phrase "concentrating on" is particularly inelegant. The first sentence can be improved to flow better, while still getting across all the important details and links. I'm just not sure how, exactly... --UnHommeLibre 02:52, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Hehe, "focuses on" isn't an improvement. :-) Thanks for trying though! --UnHommeLibre 03:23, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I've inserted a new two-sentence intro which flows pretty well. --UnHommeLibre 04:30, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Queen and Country[edit]

At some point, someone should revise the paragraph about Queen and Country to expand on the huge extent to which Q&C borrows ("steals"?) whole scenes and dialogue from Sandbaggers episodes. The reivsed paragraph might also mention that Rucka intended it as a sort of quasi-sequel to the show. The paragraph might begin, "An unofficial sequel of sorts appeared in 2001 when..." or something like that. --UnHommeLibre 02:52, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Origin of the Title[edit]

The ruminations about the etymology of "Sandbaggers" strike me as trivial, not to mention speculative; moreover, that pargraph interrupts the flow of the otherwise well-flowing first few paragraphs. And with all the newly added paragraphs about the other actors, the whole introduction is getting a bit top-heavy. It's already mentioned elsewhere in the article that there is no actual real-world division called "Sandbaggers"; this seems to me to be all that needs to be said on the name topic (a good encylopaedia article should be thorough but not exhaustive, eh?) I vote for striking the paragraph that speculates about the etymology of "Sandbaggers." --UnHommeLibre 03:23, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I disagree - the fact that the name is not explained is itself significant, and should at the very least be explored. It's only one paragraph and at the moment removing it won't make the top section any less "top-heavy". Part of the reason why it is so is because there's no TOC or header split, which is why breaking it up with "overview" and so on would be appropriate for aesthetic reasons. Just not names like "Cold warriors", which to my mind are too "kewl" for a main section header. --khaosworks 03:30, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
The Sandbaggers entry is not long enough that a Table of Contents would help navigation or aesthetics. An article about, say, China or DVDs needs a ToC, but the Sandbaggers entry is only cluttered up by the addition of one.
"Cold Warriors" is not "kewl"; the esteemed Mr. Terrence Rafferty uses the phrase himself in his great New York Times essay about the series.
That the nickname "Sandbaggers" is not explained in the series is true; that the lack of explanation is significant does not follow, nor does it follow that this lack of explanation should be filled in via Wikipedia with a whole paragraph of speculation! By that logic, why not add paragraphs that speculate about why Tyler wasn't caught earlier, or whether Willie Caine died in Malta, or about any of a dozen other things that weren't explained in the series? --UnHommeLibre 03:54, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)
It's a matter of navigation. Eventually you're going to get to the point where the article is big enough that you want to get to the bottom of it quickly - it just makes good sense to have it, which is why it automatically comes up once you get enough sections in. And it's apples and oranges when it comes to bits like Tyler and Caine - that's incidental detail. This is central - it's the name of the series itself, and it's never explained. --khaosworks 04:05, 21 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Isn't sandbagging the act of knocking someone out with a small bag full of sand? At the time that the series was first broadcast that was my understanding. Although I note that none of the on-line urban dictionaries give this definition. It seems logical for enforcers employed by MI5 - like the "plumbers" in Mr. Palfry of Westminster. (talk) 19:45, 19 December 2009 (UTC) (talk) 19:29, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

Yes, sandbagging is a British term (from WWII at least) for quietly knocking out/killing someone with a sock weighted with sand. Google "sandbag cosh." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:52, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

Burnside and Dickens[edit]

I'm not sure I agree with the part talking about how there was no implication of sex involving any of the Sandbaggers. It was certainly implied that Burnside and Laura Dickens were romantically involved. --Mzellers 07:03, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
Yes, but they never got a chance to sleep together. She emotional issues when it came to sex. They were heading that way, but not before she died. --khaosworks 07:45, 11 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I recall a dialog where Burnside thanks Laura, saying he can finally sleep at nights, and she smiles and says usually it wouldn't be considered a compliment —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:38, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

The agents speculate that Burnside and Dickens are sleeping together - but in the context I think that suggests that they weren't doing so, rather than that they were. (talk) 19:31, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

James Bond[edit]

"The Sandbaggers inverts most of the conventions of the spy thriller genre. In sharp contrast to the "girls, guns and gadgets" motif established by Ian Fleming's James Bond, The Sandbaggers features very few action sequences, no flashy cars, and no high-tech gizmos."

As I understand it, in the original books, the character did not have gadgets anyway.

They were of a much more limited nature then in the films. (StarkeRealm (talk) 09:00, 25 November 2007 (UTC))

The Sandbaggers name[edit]

I won't add this to the article as I haven't seen The Sandbaggers since it was originally shown here in the UK, but as far as I remember it, the term 'Sandbagger' refers to a team that is brought in at short-notice to manage a problem that is getting out of hand and approaching crisis point. The term is a reference to the managing of temporary flood defences and the use of sandbags as make-shift walls to keep the water out. Burnside's team were used in a similar way, i.e, to 'manage' emergencies. Ian Dunster 12:25, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Also consider a sand-filled sap. [1] [2] Davidbober 16:01, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

For what it may be worth, in the American vernacular if you "sandbag" a person you may be 1) hitting them with a sap, 2) scamming or otherwise deceiving them, or 3) coercing them to do something against their will...if not all three simultaneously. Cryptonymius 00:19, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

No one in the U.S. uses "sandbag" as a verb. You're just making stuff up.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 22 February 2009 lists five verb meanings.--McGeddon (talk) 20:16, 22 February 2009 (UTC)


Yes to merger. Not enough notability or depth to Burnside to stand on own. Decoratrix 19:22, 20 May 2007 (UTC)

External links - IMDB[edit]

I added The Sandbaggers at the Internet Movie Database even though it appears already on the infobox, since it's common practice for films and TV series. Agreed? (talk) 15:35, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

a quibble of a word[edit]

Burnside refers to Willie as "the best operative currently operating anywhere in the world".

What was the context of this phrase? If Burnside said "Willie is the best operative currently operating anywhere in the world," that's describing him, not referring to him; if he said "I've assigned the best operative currently operating anywhere in the world," that's referring. In my humble opinion.  —Tamfang (talk) 19:24, 27 December 2008 (UTC)

What the heck is wrong with you? Aspergers? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:18, 8 September 2010 (UTC)
If you cut off the "I've assigned" part then the quote, which does exactly that, can properly be described as "referring". What's your problem, Bud?
Um, no. If someone asks whether Willie is any good and Burnside responds "The best operative ...", that's describing, not referring, even if it's not a complete sentence. —Tamfang (talk) 10:06, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
If someone asks "Whom are you sending?" and B replies "The best ...", that is 'referring'. —Tamfang (talk) 07:13, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

Spoilers Suck[edit]

Can't the spoilers be moved to a separate section so that there is at least some chance of avoiding them? It really sucks that I was skimming the article and see all the characters who will be killed off. If it won't be changed at least readers could be warned: "Spoiler alert: Reading this article before watching the series potentially ruins the story for you." (talk) 18:21, 12 November 2010 (UTC)

The series is over thirty years old, it's a little late for spoilers. Kusonaga (talk) 14:17, 13 November 2010 (UTC)

Niggley point re Burnside and Ross[edit]

Re Burnside being rescued in Vietnam by Ross. Didn't Ross manipulate Cain (standing in for Burnside), by having SIS rescue a CIA agent in the Soviet Union, who was Cheever, on the grounds that Cheever was the one who had rescued Burnside in Vietnam? I'll dig out the DVDs to check (a good excuse to re-watch a great series, but I feel somewhat sure of this. SmarterAlec (talk) 19:36, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

That does sound right; but, you know, it could easily be a fib on Jeff's part. —Tamfang (talk) 07:25, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

the former Mrs Burnside[edit]

What is Wellingham's daughter's name? I want to say Bettina. I think she appears once, and is named on that occasion, but can't find her in IMDb's cast lists; maybe I'm thinking of Lady W. —Tamfang (talk) 07:25, 16 February 2014 (UTC)