Posts Tagged ‘MI5’

ClandesTime 103 – MI5 Censorship of Panorama

Published March 19th 2017

In 1980 the BBC’s documentary series Panorama began developing an episode on British intelligence. This was the first of its kind, at least by such a prominent and respected series, but both the central government and the intelligence agencies were not happy. Over a period of several months they put pressure on the BBC, trying to stop the programme from being broadcast. When this failed they considered using the government veto to prevent it from airing, and ultimately ended up heavily censoring the documentary via a secret preview screening with MI5.

Top Secret File on Government Censorship of Panorama

Published March 16th 2017

In the summer of 1980 the BBC’s flagship documentary series Panorama was developing a TV special about British intelligence. This was the first film of its kind, and perhaps unsurprisingly Thatcher’s government was not happy about it. Downing Street put pressure on the film-makers via BBC Director-General Ian Threthowan, and an MI5 lawyer previewed the film and provided detailed feedback on what to remove.

ClandesTime 102 – Was Richard Whiteley a Spy?

Published March 12th 2017

Richard Whiteley is best known for presenting the popular afternoon quiz show Countdown, and Ricky Tomlinson is best known for starring in the popular sitcom The Royle Family. Back in the 1970s things were very different. This week we examine Tomlinson’s recent allegation that Whiteley was a ‘member’ of the security services, due to his role presenting an 1973 documentary that influenced the trial of the Shrewsbury 24 – including Tomlinson. This trial, and this documentary, were the British establishment’s revenge against Tomlinson and other leaders of the 1972 Building Workers Strike. Amidst an ongoing cover-up I examine the plausibility of Tomlinson’s allegation that Whiteley was a spy, and the unconvincing denial of the allegation by Whiteley’s former partner.

Review: Spies Episode 1

Published January 9th 2017

Spies is the ‘new’ game show from Channel 4. I say ‘new’ because it’s a blow-for-blow remake of the 2004 BBC series Spy, which also took a small group of members of the public and had three former spooks put them through their paces via a series of tests and training exercises. The first episode of Spies contained one variation from the BBC’s version – one of the contestants is a mole, part of the team called ‘control’ who are ostensibly running the training course.

NSA Report on John le Carré Novels

Published January 5th 2017

Recently made available by Cryptome this NSA report originally appeared in an issue of their publication Cryptolog in 1992. It examines the role that signals intelligence (SIGINT) plays in the storylines of several John le Carré novels and considers whether the inaccuracies and limitations in these portrayals are of benefit to the NSA. They assess the influence of the novels on both the general public and on policy makers and in a moment of great irony they accuse le Carré of overlooking the moral consequences of his more favoured human intelligence (HUMINT), while doing the exact same thing themselves.

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