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Category:    Home > Reviews > Spy > Comedy > Piglet Files - Set One (British TV Spy spoof/BFS DVD)

The Piglet Files – Set One (British TV/Spy spoof/BFS DVD/NTSC Region One)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Episodes: B-


PLEASE NOTE: This series (with this edition just about out of print) has also been issued in England from Network U.K. and you can read more about it at this link:






The late 1980s was a time that the Spy genre was in trouble.  Timothy Dalton was Roger Moore’s successor as James Bond, but it was not clicking, and a second TV version of Mission: Impossible was a disaster.  They were especially affected by the writer’s strike, then The Cold War ended.  In all this, a new spoof of secret agents was launched on TV in late 1989 and went by unnoticed.  That’s a shame, because The Piglet Files is better than expected and holds up well considering how dated the situation is now.


Nicholas Lyndhurst is the title agent, Peter Chapman, who gets his job through The Peter Principle.  He’s a good guy, but not the brightest agent MI-5 ever had.  Since he is just qualified enough to keep his job and with no one available quick enough to replace him, off he goes on high priority missions.


One of the reasons the show holds up is that the humor is put just ahead of the Spy world, which is why the dated Soviet situations are still funny.  Paul Minnett and Brian Leveson found a great little niche here to make this show work.  Chapman is not Inspector Clouseau or Maxwell Smart, so we do not see a repeat of the oblivious, funny spy.  That also makes it also hold up well post-Austin Powers.  He is also at least as likable.  Clive Francis, from the Sharpes mini-series and still best remembered as the replacement lodger for Malcolm McDowell in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 classic A Clockwork Orange is a hoot as his boss.  John Ringham, Steven Law and ‘Allo ‘Allo! Veteran Paul Cooper are also a plus among an exceptional cast.


The episodes are meant to fit half-hour slots and are as follows:


A Question Of Intelligence

A Room With A View

Fair Exchange

The Iceman Cometh (with a very big laugh)

Now You See It

A Private Member’s Bill

The Beagle Has Landed


You do not have to be a spy fan to get the laughs, but the more you know of this era of the genre, the funnier it gets.  Adding to the nuttiness is all of those Cold War-era things many have forgotten, handily in the back of your mind for laughs again.  The producers could have never expected that, but as the rest of this series comes out on DVD, people will discover just how good it was.  It deserves a second chance.


The 1.33 X 1 full frame, color image is shot on analog PAL video and looks good for its age.  Even the shooting and editing is funny.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is clear and also good for its age, including appropriate music for the shows by Rod Argent and Peter Van-Hook.  The extras include a few bio/filmographies and a solid history of MI-5 itself that seems to have also been on three boxed sets of The Sandbaggers.  We can only hope to see more extras in the next sets.


The more you watch and the more this show sets up its characters and situations, the funnier each show gets.  That is good TV and makes it one of the best sitcoms from anywhere in the 1980s or 1990s.  I had some real laughs here, and though I am a fan of the genre, everyone can find something funny in The Piglet Files.  We’ll cover the next sets when we return.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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