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The Sandbaggers Set 2 (1980) – DVD review

Sandbaggers Set 2 DVD


Series Created by Ian Mackintosh
Starring Roy Marsden, Ray Lonnen, Michael Cashman, Bob Sherman, Jerome Willis, Alan MacNaughtan, Elizabeth Bennett, Richard Vernon


  • All six second season episodes
  • Ian Mackintosh biography
  • Episode Guide
  • Memorable Dialogue
  • Production Stills
  • A Guide to Sandbaggers Abbreviations

Released by: BFS Video.
Rating: NR
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Own it.

[ad#longpost]Things are not going well for Neil Burnside (Marsden), Director of Operations for MI-5. Still recovering from the death of a female sandbagger he became close with, he loses another during a mission. That makes four in less than two years. Then his former father in law, Sir Geoffrey Wellingham (MacNaughtan), is kidnapped, one of his sandbaggers, Willie Caine (Lonnen), is involved in a terrorist airplane hijacking, his other sandbagger, Mike Wallace (Cashman), is investigated for blowing a defection, a cabinet minister is discovered to be a Russian spy, his secretary is quitting, and his new boss could be the obsequious deputy chief Peele or someone who won’t condone Burnside not playing by the book. Burnside is going to have to use all his guile, ruthlessness, and skill to protect the country and more important, protect his department.

Another solid season of one of the best drama series you haven’t seen. The plots are still filled with duplicity and double-dealing from within as well as without. The show is made with such realism that when the twists happen, you’re not surprised, nor does it feel fake, or forced, or a “writer’s trick.” The realism is also evident when you see the various passengers of a hijacked airplane sweltering in the heat, all quiet except for a crying baby with the nervous hijackers waving guns at any provocation. And when attacks and rescues happen, there are innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire. The viewers are reminded that this is real life, not an action/adventure movie.

I have already mentioned Marsden’s performance in my review of the first season, so I will talk about one of the other players. While Roy Lonnen’s Caine seems to have Bond‘s libido, he doesn’t have 007’s love of action. He never carries a gun unless absolutely necessary and treats being a sandbagger like a job, not a holy calling like Burnside. Lonnen plays Caine, who does an important job, but is able to leave work at the office and have a life outside of it, the opposite to Marsden’s Burnside who has made SIS his whole life and takes any defeat, no matter how trivial, as a personal affront.

The features on this set are a definite improvement over the first season. Along with the Guide to Sandbagger Abbreviations from the first set, we also get an episode guide, still photos from the series, and memorable quotes from the various episodes. The most interesting feature is a biography of the creator of the show, Ian Mackintosh, written by his brother. It seems that Mackintosh, while never officially involved in intelligence work, also had to inform the Royal Navy when he was leaving the country and always had the latest in anti-surveillance gear. Could his writing of the show come from first hand experience? The mystery deepened when in 1980, Mackintosh disappeared while flying over Alaska. What was odd was he was flying with an experienced pilot, no wreckage was ever found, and they weren’t following their stated flight plan. No one knows to this day what actually happened. Mackintosh did leave behind an excellent series, though…so pick up The Sandbaggers.

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