What TV’s on at the BFI in October-November 2017? Including Hard Sun, Inside No.9, Callan at 50 and The Prisoner at 50

Callan - Suddenly At Home

Every month, TMINE lets you know what TV the BFI will be presenting at the South Bank in London

Oh, I do love October-November. All the leaves, colours. And, of course, all the lovely TV events that the BFI will be hosting. This ‘month’, in fact, there are a few doozies that I will shortly be booking, I suspect.

For most people, the appeal will be two previews with Q&As: the first of the fourth season of Inside No.9, at which Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith will be in attendance; the second of the forthcoming Hard Sun, written by Luther‘s Neil Cross and starring Jim Sturgess and Agyness Deyn.

For me, though, the big draw is Saturday 25th November’s ‘thrilling television’ day, which will include:

  • A ‘Callan at 50′ panel discussion
  • A ‘Sixties Spies and Beyond’ discussion that will include clips of The Avengers, The Man From UNCLE et al
  • ‘The Prisoner at 50′, which will include a bespoke BFI cut of Network’s documentary.

That’s me sorted for the day. How do you reckon I break it to my wife?

Or that there’s a talk on the Wednesday evening about the state of conspiracy thrillers on UK TV, comparing them to classic shows like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Edge of Darkness? Ah, waddya gonna do?


Monday 30 October

20:40 NFT1
TV Preview: Inside No. 9 + Q&A with Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and producer Adam Tandy
Inside No. 9: Zanzibar
Dir David Kerr UK 2017. 30min. Courtesy of BBC.

Welcome to London’s Hotel Zanzibar /
Our varied guests have travelled from afar /
Proposals, plots and prostitutes combine /
It’s a comedy of errors on floor nine.

+ Inside No. 9: Once, Removed
Dir Jim O’Hanlon UK 2017. 30min. Courtesy of BBC.

According to the Holmes & Rahe Stress Scale, the three most troubling experiences in life are the death of a spouse, divorce and imprisonment. Moving house is only 32nd on the list. But anything could happen in the last 10 minutes of this episode. Or the 10 minutes before that. Or the first 10 minutes for that matter.

Wednesday 20 November

18:15 NF3
The Secret State 2017: Conspiracy thrillers on UK TV including producer Simon Cornwell and writers Toni Grisoni and Dennis Kelly
TRT 90min

With a panel of guests drawn from the finest exponents of the contemporary TV thriller that includes Simon Cornwell (The Night Manager) Toni Grisoni (Red Riding Trilogy) and Dennis Kelly (Utopia), we look at connections between today’s thriller on TV and current affairs – concerns over terrorism, crises of faith in the Establishment and the rise of political populism. We’ll explore shows such as The Night Manager, Utopia and the Red Riding trilogy in comparison with famous TV thrillers of the past, such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Edge of Darkness, State of Play, Callan and The Prisoner.

Saturday 25 November

14:00 NFT2
Callan at 50 + panel discussion with author Peter Mitchell and director Piers Haggard
+ Callan: Suddenly At Home
ITV 1970. Dir Piers Haggard. With Edward Woodward, Patrick Mower, Russell Hunter, Zena Walker. 55min.

We screen an episode from Callan, the gritty, down-to-earth story of a professional killer working for a British espionage agency. It is followed by a panel discussion about the downbeat spy and his dangerous world. Joining us will be Peter Mitchell, son of Callan creator James Mitchell, and current ‘keeper of the flame.’

15:50 NFT2
Sixties Spies and Beyond + Discussion

TV spies from the likes of The Avengers, The Man from UNCLE and The Spies to Danger Man and Mission Impossible pretty much trusted their handlers and had unswerving loyalty to their country. With Callan and The Prisoner – perhaps reflecting some of the rebellious aspects of the late 60s – things weren’t so black and white. Friends and colleagues couldn’t be trusted and hidden agendas lay around every corner. Join us for this lively discussion and a whole host of clips.

18:15 NFT1
The Prisoner at 50 + Q&A with documentary documentary director Chris Rodley

We’re proud to be screening this bespoke BFI cut of a new documentary on The Prisoner made for Network Distribution. In 1984, Channel 4 documentary Six Into One attempted to unravel the enigma of The Prisoner. Now, over 30 years later, Chris Rodley has returned to the project using material shot at the time (but not used) to create a brand new, fascinating look at the much-loved spy-fi series.

Monday 27 November

18:15 NFT1
TV Preview: Hard Sun + Q&A with creator and writer Neil Cross & cast TBC
Euston Films-BBC-Hulu 2017. Dir Brian Kirk. With Jim Sturgess, Agyness Deyn. Ep1 60min

Jim Sturgess (One Day) and Agyness Deyn (Sunset Song) play detectives Charlie Hicks and Elaine Renko, partners and enemies in contemporary London, who seek to enforce the law and protect their loved ones in a world that every day slips closer to certain destruction. Hicks is a family man and a great, committed copper, but he’s profoundly corrupt. Renko is difficult and damaged… and utterly incorruptible. Though Hicks and Renko stand on different ends of the social and moral spectrum they must learn to work together if they’re going to survive until the end of the world. Hard Sun is a new six-hour drama written by internationally-acclaimed, Bafta and Emmy-nominated writer Neil Cross, creator of Luther.


Booking times

Patrons and champions’ priority booking: September 25 from 11.30am
Members’ priority booking opens: September 26 from 11.30am
Public booking opens: October 3 from 11.30am


Members: £9
Member concs: £7.20
Non-members: £11
Non-member concs: £8.80
Under 16s: £6

Reduced prices for weekday matinees. Conc prices are available to senior citizens, students, unwaged and disability visitors. Proof of eligibility may be required.
As always, visit the BFI web site for more details.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.