Traitor (TV drama)

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Written byDennis Potter
Directed byAlan Bridges
StarringJohn Le Mesurier
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
ProducerGraeme MacDonald
Running time60 mins
Original networkBBC 1
Original release14 October 1971 (1971-10-14)

Traitor is a BBC television drama written by Dennis Potter and directed by Alan Bridges, which featured in the Play for Today series on 14 October 1971. It stars John Le Mesurier as Adrian Harris, a character loosely based on Kim Philby. Le Mesurier's performance won him the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor in 1972.[1]


Western journalists visit Moscow to interview Adrian Harris, a former controller in British intelligence who was also a double agent for the Soviet Union. Harris believes in both Communism and Englishness, believing himself to have betrayed his class, but not his country. The press find these beliefs incompatible, and want to find out why he became a ‘traitor’. Harris is plagued by anxieties over both his actions and his upper-class childhood, and drinks to a state of collapse.[2]


    Lady Emma – Diana Fairfax
    Duty clerk – Terence Bayler
    Craig – John Quentin
    Schoolmaster – John Saunders
    Young Adrian – Sean Maddox


Better known for comedic roles, Le Mesurier's casting was a brave move, one which initially concerned the actor who "was very, very scared" that "he wouldn’t be able to pull it off".[2] Le Mesurier would later call the role 'the best part I ever had on TV'.[1] While reviews of the play were mixed, critics were unanimous in their praise for Le Mesurier and he won the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor in 1972.[2]


  1. ^ a b Angelini, Sergio (2013). "Traitor (1971)". Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Rolinson, David (4 November 2010). "Traitor (1971)". Retrieved 7 February 2014.

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