The Printed Word
The rare tie-in books are recalled by The OpsRoom.

Ian Mackintosh novelized two of his first-season episodes. Titled simply The Sandbaggers, the book was published in paperback by Corgi Books as a tie-in to the ITV broadcast of the first season in September 1978. A hardcover edition was published some months later.

The book novelizes Always Glad to Help and A Feasible Solution, episodes 5 and 6. It begins, however, with a scene from A Proper Function of Government, episode 2. It covers the morning where Burnside takes the bus to work through Diane saying ‘Want the bad news?’ and Burnside replying ‘I want a cup of coffee.’ (The televised line about ‘that idiot in Singapore’ becomes ‘that idiot in Manila’ in the book.)

Only a few hours separate the events of Always Glad to Help and A Feasible Solution. At the book’s end, just after Burnside tells Willie ‘Don’t forget it again,’ Burnside receives a red-line phone call from Duty Ops Officer Sam Lawes, who says, ‘Got a problem in Berlin.’ That’s presumably a reference to Special Relationship.

From the novel
The dedication reads ‘for MICHAEL FERGUSON who controlled the mission.’ Michael Ferguson was the producer of most of the Sandbaggers’ episodes, and director of several.

Laura is 28 years old. Diane is 33. Willie and Burnside are 34 and 39. Peele is 50 while James Greenley is 55. Wellingham is 58.

Burnside has been D. Ops for six months. He divorced Belinda Wellingham three years before, and after five years of childless marriage.

The SIS office building is called Collingstone House. Wellingham's club is the Journeyman in Pall Mall.

In Burnside’s office, the chairs ‘would have given nightmares to an osteopath and had been designed cleverly to assist the SIS career structure, by ensuring that everyone left the service early, with chronic back-ache.’

Peele and Greenley
There’s a neat description of Peele: ‘Happily married and a man who liked to potter in his garden and talk music and the arts, he was by no means ungifted or unintelligent; but he was, above all, a survivalist, who intended to retire with the KCMG and his pension, as the results of a blameless record. And to those ends, in Burnside’s opinion, Peele surrendered too easily to pressure from above.’

C James Greenley ‘had joined SIS some five months before, having been Consul-General in Munich.’ Background is given to the C designation: ‘The Head of the Secret Intelligence Service is known by the code-name ‘C’, a practice initiated in nineteen-ten with the first overlord of MI6, Sir Mansfield Cumming.’

The book gives additional background to the relationship between Sandbaggers and Heads of Station, a theme which becomes important in the second-season episode A Question of Loyalty: ‘In fact, that authority was in a grey area; so painted by a typically-vague standing order which said merely that Sandbaggers ‘should work insofar as possible with the close co-operation and agreement of the Head of Station.’

The Sandbaggers took this to mean that, where necessary, they could override the Station Chief; while Heads of Station professed to understand it as meaning that Special Section officers were expected to obtain approval of their actions on Station. Thus, clashes could occur; and the Sandbaggers kept in the Hutch a short list of those Heads of Station who would give trouble.

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