Harry's Game

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For the Clannad song, see Theme from Harry's Game.
Harry's Game
Starring Ray Lonnen
Derek Thompson
Theme music composer Clannad
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 3
Running time 180 minutes
Original network ITV
Original release 25 October 1982 –
27 October 1982

Harry's Game was a British television drama mini-series made by Yorkshire Television for ITV in 1982, based on the 1975 novel of the same name by Gerald Seymour.

Its lead actors were Ray Lonnen and Derek Thompson.

The evocative music that accompanied the series by the Irish musical group Clannad titled Theme from Harry's Game was commercially released, reaching the top five in both Ireland and the United Kingdom pop music singles charts, bringing the band its first major international exposure.

Story Line[edit]

The British Government cabinet minister Henry Danby is murdered 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 that Theresa, a girl at whose family home Billy stayed the night 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 the murder.

A waiter overhears two army officers discussing Harry's presence in Belfast while eating at his restaurant. He reports Harry's presence to the IRA, 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".


Harry's Game was filmed in Leeds, in Yorkshire, England, on a now-demolished housing district in Burley, which was adjacent to 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 the south of County Dublin including the Ballybrack area.

Broadcast and distribution history[edit]

The series 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]