Running Blind was originally broadcast in the UK in three 50 minute episodes. Icelandic transmission records from RÚV, the Icelandic National Broadcast Service, record transmission lengths in January & February 1980 as:
Episode 1: The Messenger Boy – 49min 24sec.
Episode 2: Sixteen Rivers to Cross – 49min 31sec.
Episode 3: The Deception Operation – 49min 52sec.
On 10 & 17 July 1979, at 10.50pm and 10.55pm respectively, the BBC repeated the full three-part series as two episodes, each 1hr 15min in duration. The break point for this two part transmission was the scene in the highlands when Slade flies over Stewart & Elín’s Land Rover in the Piper PA-23-160 apache (TF-HOF), with titles playing over a freeze frame of the scene.
For the 1991 Prime Video VHS release of Running Blind, distributed on behalf of BFS Ltd (BFS Entertainment & Multimedia Limited) under licence from BBC Enterprises Ltd, the three episodes were edited into one 120-minute [118min 14sec] presentation (ISBN 0-7733–7802-2).
Approximately 25 minutes of footage was cut from the original series to produce this video version, and this is a record of the cut footage:
Episode 1: The Messenger Boy
Run Time: 49min 24sec [RÚV – Icelandic National Broadcast Service records].
Slade briefing Stewart at Duchray Castle
Slade: ‘Old ways are always best; don’t you think?’
Both go outside.
Slade: ‘Oh you’ll get paid of course, Her Majesty’s Government isn’t niggardly. Shall we say two hundred pounds?’
Stewart: ‘Why don’t you send it to Oxfam you bastard.’
Slade: ‘Your language Alan, however I shall certainly do so.’
Stewart: ‘What do I do if somebody tries to take the package?’
Slade: ‘Stop him.’
Stewart: ‘At any cost?’
Slade: ‘You mean should you kill? Do you think you can Alan? After all you had me in your rifle sights back there a little while ago didn’t you? And you did nothing about it inspire of what happened to poor Jimmy Birkby. You always were a little too civilised for our organisation, a little too soft centred. Just deliver the package.’
Stewart: ‘And Kennikin?’
Slade: ‘I shan’t help him to find you, but he does have his own strictly unprofessional reasons for wanting to do so, and if he does, I’m inclined to think he’ll want to operate on you with a sharp knife rather than ask you to share his bottle of Calvados.’
Stewart: ‘Where are you in the hierarchy now Slade?’
Slade: ‘Quite close to the top, right next to Taggart, I even get to have lunch with the P.M. Oh, one more thing, about that package, don’t open it dear boy, remember what curiosity did to the cat.’
Stewart walks back inside the castle. Footage cut: 92sec.
Stewart’s arrival at Keflavík International Airport – Customs Hall
Stewart collects luggage from luggage belt and speaks to Customs office played by Árni Ibsen.
Customs Officer: ‘Ah, Mr Stewart, fishing again?’
Stewart: ‘I’ll try and get a few of your salmon, now all the gears been sterilised and there’’ the certificate.’
Customs Officer: ‘Best of luck.’
Stewart is then seen in the cafeteria paying for a cup of coffee, he then sits at a table and prepares to get a cigarette out. Footage cut: 33sec.
Stewart’s briefing with courier in cafeteria of Keflavík International Airport
Courier hearing flight call gets up from table.
Courier: ‘That’s my flight. When you get to Reykjavík just leave the car outside the Hotel Saga and walk away, it’ll be taken care of.’ Footage cut: 11sec.
Stewart’s fight with Lindholm at Kleifarvatn
- After killing Lindholm, Stewart checks for a pulse. Footage cut: 12sec.
- After pulling Lindholm onto the rear of the car Stewart walks to the other side of the car and shuts the door. He then picks up Lindholm’s gun and closes the engine compartment of the VW Beetle belonging to Lindholm. He then gets back into his car and drives off, interior car scene of Stewart driving away from Kleifarvatn. Footage cut: 43sec.
Meeting with Bjarni outside Hótel Saga, Reykjavík
Bjarni: ‘We must go fishing you know.’
Stewart: ‘Glad to.’
Stewart then places luggage in boot of Taxi [R6387].
Bjarni: ‘I’m sorry I haven’t got time to drop you, I have a flight to Greenland, but I’ll ring you in a couple of days.’
Stewart: ‘Do that.’
Stewart: ‘Listen, I’ll speak to you soon.’
Bjarni: ‘Yeah, see you.’
Stewart gets into Taxi and cuts to scene of Taxi driving into Lynghagi. Footage cut: 26sec.
Arrival of taxi arrival outside Elín’s apartment in Lynghagi, Reykjavík
Taxi stops and Stewart gets out, retrieves luggage from boot of Taxi.
Stewart: ‘Takk fyrir.’
Taxi Driver: ‘Bless.’
Stewart then enters apartment. Footage cut: 26sec.
Elín’s apartment in Lynghagi, Reykjavík
- Stewart takes luggage to bedroom, places package and gun in suitcase then removes bloodstained shirt and places it in his suitcase. Elín enters and hands him a whisky.
Elín: ‘Your whisky sir.’
Stewart: ‘Thank you darling, I’ll shall be with you in a minute.’
Elín leaves room, Stewart stows suitcase in wardrobe. Cuts to bathroom scene with Stewart rinsing his face and cleaning blood from his side. Footage cut: 52sec.
- Longer shot of Stewart on the balcony watching Graham drive away in his car, and then returning inside the apartment. Footage cut: 10sec.
- Elín and Stewart talking on sofa, where there is a longer flashback sequence of the Birkby car explosion, which cuts to Stewart and Elín in bed, kissing. Footage cut: 37sec.
- Longer flashback of Lindholm fight with different footage of struggle on bonnet ending with the sound of a gunshot. Footage cut: 19sec.
- Stewart gets out of bed, lights a cigarette and walks towards window. Footage cut: 4sec.
- Scene at the breakfast table.
Elín: ‘Alan, is everything alright?’
Stewart: ‘Yes of course, why do you ask?’
Elín: ‘Oh, I don’t know, just something, or I’m just being feminine I suppose.’
Cuts to longer shot of Land Rover driving alongside apartment. Footage cut: 20sec.
Reykjavík Domestic Airport cafeteria [Hótel Loftleiðir]
Graham purchases a cup of coffee and sits down at a table. Stewart seen entering and also paying for a cup of coffee. Footage cut: 20sec.
Meeting in Stewart’s bedroom at Hótel Húsavík with Graham & Slade
- Graham leaves hotel bedroom, closing door.
Stewart: ‘Well now that he’s gone out the room perhaps we can have a grown up conversation, where did you get that one? Do you have to blow his nose for him as well?’
Slade: ‘He’s a good lad, besides it’s you that really cocked this one up. A little matter like taking a small package from A to B and you fall down on it. I knew you were past it, but I didn’t know you were that bloody decrepit.’ Footage cut: 19sec.
- Slade: ‘Graham!’
Graham enters room.
Slade to Stewart: ‘I bring you in because we’re shorthanded and now we’ve got a whole country to seal off because of your stupidity.’
Stewart: ‘I didn’t ask to come into this.’
Slade: ‘So you cause a bloody shambles. Go back to Reykjavík and shack up with your girlfriend for the rest of the summer.’
Slade to Graham: ‘Put a call through to the department in London, I want to talk to them.’ Graham looks for telephone in room.
Slade: ‘Downstairs, and get onto the airport, I want my plane ready to take off at five minutes’ notice. Well what the hell are you waiting for?’
Graham leaves room.
Slade: ‘And you just better watch out for Kennikin, because now I’ll not lift a finger to stop him. My god I hope he does nail you.’
Stewart: ‘You’re all heart Slade.’
Slade leaves room. Footage cut: 45sec.
Elín & Stewart in Hótel Húsavík restaurant
Elín: ‘Aren’t you going to offer me breakfast?’
Stewart motions for waitress saying ‘Excuse me’, looks at Elín, ‘what do you want?’
Elín: ‘I think I’ve suddenly lost my appetite’ and says to waitress in Icelandic ‘just a coffee please.’
Stewart: ‘Now when you’ve finished your coffee, we’re leaving.’
Elín: ‘So we’re not staying here then?’
Stewart: ‘No we can buy some things and have lunch on the road.’
Elín: ‘I know I asked you this yesterday, and I’m asking you again now, is there something wrong.’
Waitress brings coffee.
Stewart to waitress: ‘Thank you.’
Stewart: ‘What do you know about me?’
Elín: ‘It’s a strange question. You’re someone I met three years ago, and whom I like very much, as you should know.’
Stewart: ‘And that’s all?’
Elín: ‘What else do I need to know? If you want me to know anything you’ll tell me. Well there is one thing I know.’
Stewart: ‘What’s that?’
Elín: ‘You’ve been hurt, and it happened not long before we met. I thought I could help you to forget, so I didn’t ask any questions.’
Stewart: ‘Hmm, funny, I didn’t think it showed.’ Footage cut: 98sec.
Scenic shots of Land Rover driving to Asbyrgi with audio dub.
Elín: ‘They say the God Odin was riding his great horse Sleipnir across the arctic and the horse stumbled and planted a hoof in Iceland, and thats how Ásbyrgi was created.’
Stewart: ‘Ah, I think the geologists tell it somewhat differently. But, just now I think I prefer the myth to the reality.’ Footage cut: 17sec.
- Elín walking around Ásbyrgi after conversation with Stewart about people he has killed. Footage cut: 16sec.
- Stewart smoking a cigarette by Land Rover and Elín walking along lake edge (Botnstjörn). Footage cut: 11sec.
- Stewart & Elín in tent kissing. Footage cut: 22sec.
- Graham & Slade’s car driving into Ásbyrgi with longer shot of dust cloud in distance. Footage cut: 12sec.
- Graham stalking Stewart through the woodland at Ásbyrgi. Footage cut: 13sec.
- Graham lying wounded on ground talking to Stewart. Footage cut: 20sec.
Elín: ‘Do you know who he is?’
Stewart: ‘Someone called Graham, he’s a new boy in the department working under Slade.’
Elín: ‘Well if he’s working for Slade then he’s British, why should he come after us?’
Stewart: ‘Well whoever he’s working for, he won’t be here alone.’ Footage cut: 20sec.
End point for Episode 1 in the three-part transmission. Total of footage cut from Episode 1 to produce video version: 11min 18sec.
Episode 2: Sixteen Rivers to Cross
Run Time: 49min 31sec [RÚV – Icelandic National Broadcast Service records].
- With Graham lying wounded on the ground, Stewart gets up and speaks to Elín:
Stewart: ‘If you can manage it, start loading up the Land Rover, I’ll put him in the back.’
Elín: ‘What are you going to do?’
Stewart: ‘Well, if I can get near enough to Slade I’ll talk to him, tell him his boyfriend’s badly hurt, and if not…’
Elín: ‘Kill him?’
Stewart: ‘I don’t know! Do you think he’d have cared if Graham had killed us?’ Footage cut: 18sec.
- Land Rover driving up to entrance of Ásbyrgi. Footage cut: 15sec.
- Footage of Elín driving Land Rover out of Ásbyrgi on way to collect Stewart. Footage cut: 8sec.
Námafjall (Hverir), Lake Mývatn
Following disposal of Graham’s body at Dettifoss, footage of Land Rover driving through geothermal area at Námafjall (Hverir), Lake Mývatn. Footage cut: 10sec.
Dreki Rescue hut
When Elín leaves hut to make radio call from Land Rover, Stewart is seen unpacking lunch supplies, Elín calls to Stewart:
Elín: ‘Alan, I can’t get through to Reykjavík, must be storms in the western mountains. I could try Akureyri.’
Stewart: ‘No, no, If Slade’s listening at all he’ll concentrate on Akureyri, try Seyðisfjörður.’ Footage cut: 22sec.
Stewart in Land Rover talking on radio to Taggart
- Stewart: ‘Now either he’s gone out of his mind or he’s joined a competing firm. I came across their representatives here too.’
Taggart: ‘Not possible, Slade’s been with us far too long.’
Stewart: ‘Kim Philby was with you even longer, and there was Burgess, Maclean, Blake, now what’s wrong with adding Slade?’
Taggart: ‘Stewart you don’t know what this is about.’ Footage cut: 24sec.
- Stewart to Elín: ‘He wants me to meet someone called Jack Case, that’s all right he’s honest.’
Cuts to Taggart’s office
Taggart: ‘Where are you now?’
Stewart: ‘Where and when can you meet Case?’
Stewart: ‘Akranes…’ Footage cut: 14sec.
- Stewart talking to Taggart about Kennikin’s drinking habits – shots cut between Land Rover and office.
Taggart: ‘You trying to be funny?’
Stewart: ‘I need the information.’
Taggart: ‘Well it’ll take time, ring me back.’
Stewart: ‘Now you’re trying to be funny Taggart, you’ve got one of your messenger boys beside you, all he has to do is press a couple of computer buttons and you’ll have the answer in minutes.’
Taggart: ‘Allright, being done, hold on.’ Footage cut: 37sec.
- Taggart retrieves computer print-out and returns to desk, Jack Case re-enters office carrying file.
Stewart ‘Go ahead’ Footage cut: 13sec.
- Taggart talking to Jack Case in office following call with Stewart:
Taggart: ‘Well I’d better brief you. You will go out to Iceland the day after tomorrow Case.’
Case: ‘No sooner?’
Taggart: ‘No, there’s no rush, Slade may clear it up before you have to go, if not….’ Footage cut: 17sec.
Stewart and Elín having lunch in rear of Land Rover
Elín: ‘Now this is a larger miracle’ opening fridge in Land Rover and retrieving a bottle of beer ‘Genuine Danish beer, smuggled all the way from Copenhagen.’
Stewart: ‘There are no words.’
Elín: ‘Are you now convinced that I’ll make a good wife?’ Passes Stewart a bottle opener.
Stewart: ‘Well….’ Footage cut: 17sec.
Jack Case and Slade in bar of Hótel Loftleiðir, Reykjavík
- Slade: ‘Haven’t seen you since, when was it, Berlin 1972, that’s the last time we worked together wasn’t it?’
Case: ‘Listen Slade…..’
Slade: ‘Remember that poor sod who defected? Americans thought they had a real big catch, an East German Colonel at least.’
Case: ‘Yeah, I remember, I was there.’
Slade: Laughing ‘Turned out he was a Corporal or something. I believe they sent him back in the end.’ Footage cut: 20sec.
- Waitress brings more drinks to the table
Slade: ‘Get these would you. It’ll only be a couple of thousand, krona that is.’
Case: Pays waitress saying ‘Thank you.’
Slade: ‘Jack you must understand, I can’t have extraneous bods getting in the way, Taggart had to inform me, he knows the game.’
Case: ‘Stewart said…’
Slade: ‘They used to say that Taggart, in his day, was the best field man they had, course he let George Blake slip through his fingers.’
Case: ‘Alan Stewart didn’t want you in contact.’
Slade: ‘Stewart, Stewart’s botched everything. He killed Graham, and he tried to kill me, he’s either gone mad or he’s gone over.’
Case: ‘Oh, not Alan, if there was one person I’d swear by it’s Alan Stewart.’
Slade: ‘People used to swear by George Blake, and Philby and Maclean, of course not Burgess, I have to admit, nobody ever swore by Guy Burgess.’
Case: ‘Look I’ve known him a long time.’
Slade: ‘And now you’re getting to know him a little better. He’s got to be stopped, if necessary, removed with extreme prejudice as they say. And that means anybody that sides with him, and that could include you. But it won’t of course, because you’re going to help me. Naturally I won’t intrude on your little rendezvous, as long as I know what’s happening, and where. Now come on, drink up, we’ll have another and you can keep me up with all the gossip in Whitehall.’ Footage cut: 146sec.
Hughes 500C (396HS) (TF-GRO) helicopter chase in Highlands
Helicopter leaves and Stewart stops Land Rover briefly looking around and then retrieving binoculars to check for the helicopter.
Elín: ‘What is it?’
Stewart: ‘It’s alright, it’s nothing.’
Stewart continues driving. Footage cut: 26sec.
Footage of Land Rover after river crossing driving through highlands, cutting to the rear of the Land Rover now stationary with Stewart checking and loading magazine of Graham’s rifle.
Elín: ‘Why were you so keen on crossing the river tonight?’
Stewart: ‘Because of being followed, I saw them through the binoculars, it was a Land Rover or something. Now with the river is in full spate at the moment, there’s no way they can cross before dawn.’
Elín: ‘Couldn’t they just be tourists?’
Stewart: ‘Could be, but I doubt it, then again it could be Kennikin. Now if we move off again at two in the morning and we drive all day, we should be able to put a fair distance between us,’ Stewart dry fires rifle, then continues ‘tourists or otherwise.’ Footage cut: 29sec.
Interior driving shot of Land Rover after Stewart disables helicopter at Búðarháls Ridge.
Stewart: ‘You shouldn’t have done that.’
Elín: ‘Thought I could help, take the sniper’s attention away from you.’
Stewart: ‘Well it did, but for God’s sake don’t do anything like that again, please!’
Elín: ‘Did you find him?’
Stewart: ‘Yes.’ Footage cut: 12sec.
Tungnaá car ferry
Land Rover driving on roadaway leaving Tungnaá car ferry. Footage cut: 7sec.
Sigurlín’s apartment in Laugarvatn [Holtsgata, Hafnarfjörður]
Stewart in lounge talking with Sigurlín.
Sigurlín: ‘Gunshot wounds have to be reported to the police, you know.’
Stewart: ‘Yes I know, but in this case I really don’t think your police could cope. Look I assure you it is not a criminal matter.’
Sigurlín: ‘What then?’
Stewart: ‘Well you could call it an extreme form of political activity, hows that?’
Sigurlín: ‘The only good thing I’ve heard about this is that you want to keep Elín out of it. Tell me Alan, are you still going to marry her?’
Stewart: ‘Yes of course, if she’ll have me after all this.’
Sigurlín: ‘Good. Oh she’ll have you. It won’t be easy to get her to stay here though.’
Stewart: ‘;Yes I know.’
Sigurlín: ‘This political activity, what happens if you don’t come back?’
Stewart: ‘Well if that does happen don’t let Elín go back to Reykjavík. To go back to the apartment could be very dangerous.’
Sigurlín: ‘I’ll do what I can.’ Footage cut: 57sec.
Stewart talking with Jack Case on deck of Akraborg, the ferry between Akranes and Reykjavík.
Case: ‘…and if something or other prevents you from turning up, he’ll be waiting every mid-day until you do.’
Stewart: ‘It’s quite possible that I’ll be stopped from driving back into Reykjavík. If I find out that you’ve had anything to do with that, I’ll go right through you, do you understand? Friendship or no friendship.’
Case: ‘Still the same loveable bastard.’ Footage cut: 22sec.
Kennikin talking to Stewart at gunpoint through window of VW Beetle at Reykjavík harbour (Reykjavíkurhöfn).
Kennikin: ‘Hello’, smiling. Footage cut: 4sec.
End point for Episode 2 in the three-part transmission. Total of footage cut from Episode 2 to produce video version: 8min 38sec.
Episode 3: The Deception Operation
Run Time: 49min 52sec [RÚV – Icelandic National Broadcast Service records].
Reykjavíkurhöfn to Þingvallavatn
Interior and exterior shots of car with Kennikin and Stewart driving to summer house at Þingvallavatn.
Kennikin: ‘Ah yes, your English name.’
Stewart: ‘Scottish, we have our nationality problems as well, you know. Where am I supposed to go?’
Kennikin: ‘Towards Laugarvatn.’ Footage cut: 19sec.
Summer house at Þingvallavatn
- Kennikin and Stewart talking in lounge of summer house.
Kennikin: ‘Is the department treating you well?’
Stewart: ‘I haven’t been with the department for four years, I quit when I left Sweden.’
Kennikin: ‘My information is different, you see I also quit, this is my first assignment in four years. But you see Alan I didn’t quit of choice, I was sent to sort papers, in Ashgabat.’ Laughing ‘Me, Vaslav Victorovich Kennikin sent to shuffle papers.’
Stewart: ‘Well it could have been worse, it might have been Siberia, or Katanga.’
Kennikin: ‘It very nearly was, but they dug me up for this operation.’
Stewart: ‘That must have pleased you.’
Kennikin: ‘Ah, but I was delighted when I discovered that you were here.’ Footage cut: 45sec.
- Kennikin and Stewart talking in lounge of summer house.
Kennikin: ‘You are in love with her?’
Stewart: ‘I’m going to marry her.’
Kennikin: ‘Not a straight answer, but it will do. But of course you…sleep with her? When you come to Iceland do you lie under the stars together, clasp each others bodies and work at each other until your sweat mingles?’ Laughs ‘Is that how it is Alan?’
Stewart: ‘Get on with it Vaslev.’
Kennikin: ‘Of course, of course.’: Footage cut: 34sec.
- Shot of Stewart lighting cigarette after putting lighter fuel canister in fire, then returning to his seat. Cuts to scene of Kennikin outside with his men searching Stewart’s car. Footage cut: 18sec.
- Kennikin talking to Stuart before explosion.
Kennikin: ‘Yes, doesn’t matter now. I have an instruction to kill you immediately. I had something planned for you, something a little special, but there isn’t time now. Well, on your feet please.’
Stewart: ‘Ah, may I finish the cigarette?’
Kennikin: ‘The traditional last cigarette, you may finish it outside.’ Footage cut: 26sec.
- Shot of secretary entering office and placing file on Nordlinger’s desk. Footage cut: 3sec.
- Norlinger and Stewart talking.
Nordlinger: ‘I don’t about why I shouldn’t give it to them right now, I mean forty-eight hours, could mean my neck.’
Stewart: ‘Part with it now it’ll be my neck.’
Nordlinger: ‘Well this is American, but it doesn’t belong here at Keflavík. I’d like to know where it does belong.’
Stewart: ‘Well it could be Russian.’
Nordlinger: ‘Oh, for crying out loud, it’s full of American components.’
Stewart: ‘Well they shop in all the very best markets, I don’t give two bloody hoots if the components were made in the Congo, I want you to hold on to it.’ Footage cut: 29sec.
Driving Nordlingers car along Lækjargata turning into Skólabrú. Footage cut: 5sec.
Hótel Borg, Reykjavík
- Shot of Stewart walking up to Slade’s room in Hótel Borg. Passing a house keeper who has entered a room to change the bedding, he takes her master key from the door and uses it to enter Slade’s room, locking the door behind him and putting the keys in his pocket. Looking around the room he enters the bathroom. Footage cut: 55sec.
- Slade and Ilych talking in restaurant.
Slade: ‘But the body mustn’t be found, such a waste. Anyway, you and the others will be at the travel agency eleven o’clock tomorrow morning. As soon as you spot Stewart I must be informed by telephone.’
Ilych: ‘You will be informed. Anyway, where is Kennikin?’
Slade: ‘It’s no concern of yours, you can go now.’
Cuts to shot of Slade entering hotel room. Footage cut: 37sec.
Þingvallavatn Summer House
- Stewart & Slade arriving at entrance to summer house.
Stewart: ‘And now switch off.’ Slade puts gear shift into neutral and switches off engine. Footage cut: 7sec.
- Longer shots of summer house windows being shot out by Stewart before Slade exits. Footage cut: 4sec.
On video version the frame freezes on Stewart kissing Elín’s forehead after she exits the taxi, then fades to black with titles. On the original transmission both Stewart and Elín are seen entering the castle with taxi driving away and shot pulling out to a full view of the castle until the end of the titles. Footage cut: 10sec.
End point for Episode 3 in the three-part transmission. Total of footage cut from Episode 3 to produce video version: 4min 52sec.
Total footage cuts across three episodes: 24min 48sec.
NEXT: Discover more about the video release of Running Blind
Images © RÚV [Ríkisútvarpið – Icelandic National Broadcast Service], © BBC Scotland, & © BFS Entertainment & Multimedia Limited.
My thanks to Eysteinn Guðni Guðnason for providing me with Icelandic RÚV transmission records and also to Andy Lawrence for his assistance.