A little more digging revealed that Mr. Malahide’s character, Colonel Mailer, is an MI5 agent whose chauffeur is killed during an IRA assassination attempt on Mailer himself. According to a Sydney Morning Herald review, Mailer is “nearing retirement from a shattering life in military intelligence”, while Arthur Apple (Michael Gough) “runs a bookie’s shop and launders money for the IRA”.
I also discovered that the four-episode miniseries was based on a book by the same name by M.S. Power, consisting of three volumes: The Killing of Yesterday’s Children, Lonely the Man Without Heroes, and A Darkness in the Eye. The story deals with characters caught up in the conflict in Northern Ireland among the IRA, RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary), and the British Army – and, it seems, MI5 as well – during “The Troubles“. People who’ve seen the series describe it as a complex political drama with many interconnected plots; some go on to speculate that its hard-hitting, violent storylines might be why the BBC has never re-broadcast it, nor made it available on DVD.
I don’t know why the BBC never re-released the series, but just based on that photo, I wish they would. It looks as if a very intense conversation is taking place between Mailer and Apple; I’d like to find out what that conversation is about and how the two are involved with each other. I’m especially interested in Mr. Malahide’s performance, since it looks like it was a somewhat different role for him. What sort of man is Col. Mailer? Why did the IRA try to kill him (besides the obvious)? How does he affect the story as a whole? And did he manage to emerge from the conflict alive? I would love to see this series remastered on DVD so we could find out.