Connie Sachs

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Connie Sachs is a fictional character created by John le Carré. Sachs plays a key supporting role in le Carré's Karla Trilogy of spy novels including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; The Honourable Schoolboy; and Smiley's People.

Sachs is an eccentric alcoholic spinster who alternates between motherly and facetiously flirtatious relationships with her "boys", the men in the agency (although it was revealed she was in a lesbian relationship in Smiley's People). Sachs devoted her personal and professional life to the study of Soviet intelligence and most notably the Soviet counter-intelligence master known as Karla. As one of the titular "Smiley's people", Sachs devotedly follows spymaster George Smiley through his career, happily returning from an early retirement to support him in Tinker, Tailor. By the time of the final book of the trilogy, Connie is near death from age and alcoholism, but her encyclopaedic memory of Soviet intelligence helps Smiley piece together the mystery which ultimately redeems the career of both Smiley and his "people."

In the BBC's 1979 television adaptation of Tinker Tailor and the 1982 adaptation of Smiley's People which followed it, Sachs was played by Beryl Reid.[1] In BBC Radio 4's 2009-10 adaptation of the Karla trilogy, Sachs was played by Maggie Steed.[2] In the 2011 film adaptation Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Sachs was played by Kathy Burke.[3]

Sachs was widely reputed (in outline at least) to be based on the real-life MI5 legendary Soviet watcher Milicent Bagot. Although she worked in domestic intelligence (unlike the fictional Connie), she was reportedly the first to alert British authorities that famed double agent Kim Philby had past associations as a Communist. Bagot died, aged 99, in 2006.[4]


  1. ^ "Send In The Clowns". British Film Institute Sight & Sound magazine. October 2000. 
  2. ^ "Classic Serial: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy". BBC Radio 4 website. 
  3. ^ Baz Bamigboye (22 October 2010). "Why Kathy Burke is coming in from the cold". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2011-09-06. 
  4. ^ Michael Evans (2006-06-03). "Le Carré's 'Connie' dies aged 99". The Times. Retrieved 2009-03-03.