BBC Radio 4, 12-24 May 2013
John le Carré's long writing career
has spanned many decades, covering the beginning and end of the Cold War and beyond. His novels have proved exceptionally
popular on all media: only recently Radio 4 serialized all the Smiley works with Simon Russell Beale memorably assuming the
Listening to A Delicate Truth, however, I began to wonder whether le Carré really had anything new to say.
Although set in the post-Cold War era (2008), the story drew on familiar conventions, both thematic and stylistic: the classic
us-vs-them plot, indirect dialogue (where the characters seldom express what they actually mean), shifting identities, and
an overarching atmosphere of untrustworthiness. Nothing is ever quite what it seems. While these conventions undoubtedly
make for exciting stories, but in the case of A Delicate Truth, they failed to enliven either the plot or the leaden
characterization. I wished that the protagonists would stop talking to one another in riddles and actually say what
they meant: if they did, perhaps things might work more smoothly in governmental circles.
Damian Lewis worked hard to sustain the
interest with a variety of vocal characterizations, but in the end I was focusing more on his performance rather than listening
to the story. The producer was Di Speirs.