Assorted Early 1980s Rickman

Smiley’s People, “Episode 2”

After the sitcom, Rickman disappears from the small screen for another year and a half before appearing in a very small role on an episode of the BBC miniseries Smiley’s People, a sequel to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

There are six episodes in this miniseries and Rickman appears for a grand total of thirty seconds in the second episode. You can find the entire miniseries on YouTube, but I am limiting my comments to Rickman’s small appearance because, quite frankly, I didn’t feel like sitting through several hours of this just to see Rickman pop up for less than half a minute.

But he shares that thirty seconds with Alec Guinness! And the video quality is actually better than in either of the previous two things I’ve reviewed, so yay for advances in quality!

Our scene opens with a general framing shot of the hotel lobby.

working the desk.png

Smiley approaches the desk, and we see that The Rickman is the desk clerk on duty.


Hans Gruber’s customer service face.


“Wait, I know you! And you know me! I’ll smile for you.”

They exchange pleasantries–and we learn Rickman’s character is named Mr. Brownlow, and then Smiley asks if he can store his bag in the building’s safe.

montage 4

“I don’t think you understand how much paperwork this entails.”

But after briefly considering the request, Mr. Brownlow decides that’s okay, “as long as it doesn’t tick.”


“Now that I think about it, if it’s a bomb, the paperwork will be the least of my worries.”

And then we get one final moment of the awesomeness of Mr. Brownlow when he notices the bag.


“You buy nice shit.”


How watched? YouTube clip.

Does Rickman steal the show?  I have no idea about the episode in general, but he’s pretty fucking awesome in this clip.

Is it worth watching beyond Rickman? Because it is thirty seconds almost entirely of nothing but him, that question is invalid.

Spinoff idea?  Mr. Brownlow’s Night Shift. You know you’d watch it. (Likewise, I would watch a Hans Gruber customer service show in a heartbeat.)

Best Rickman line? Adore the bag!” I can’t tell if Rickman’s character is genuinely that taken with the bag or if he’s just kissing ass–it works either way–but the smarmy manner he delivers the line is pure gold. In his defense, after I could finally read the bag, I adored the bag too.

Best Rickman face? There are so many great faces in this clip, but my favorite is when Smiley first asks him to store the bag.


“Don’t make me shoot you in the face, Mr. Taka–Mr. Smiley.”

Would I let Mr. Brownlow read to me? Yes, I would let him read bag labels to me.

Next time: Rickman continues his trend of playing supporting characters in BBC miniseries productions of literary adaptations while simultaneously getting more screen time and scoring one of his first breakout roles as the foul Obadiah Slope in the BBC’s 1982 The Barchester Chronicles miniseries.


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