The video

A Spy At War

In 1991 Prime Video distributed the VHS video of Running Blind on behalf of BFS Ltd (BFS Entertainment & Multimedia Limited) under licence from BBC Enterprises Ltd. The three episodes, ‘The Messenger Boy’, ‘Sixteen Rivers to Cross’ and ‘The Deception Operation’ were edited into one 120-minute presentation (ISBN 0-7733–7802-2). BFS have recently stated that it has been many years since they owned the distribution rights to the production. [1]

thevideo-running-blind-video-ukThe front of the video cover shows a production still of Stuart Wilson (Stewart) taken during the fight aboard one of the trawlers in Reykjavík harbour. The accompanying quote from the Evening Standard reads:

Action fast and furious…striking!

The rear of the video cover shows three images: At the top, a publicity still of George Sewell (Slade) standing outside Duchray Castle in Aberfoyle, Scotland. The middle image shows a production still of the fight between Steindór Hjörleifsson (Lindholm) and Stuart Wilson alongside Kleifurvatn, Reykjanes, Iceland. The bottom image is a publicity still of Ragnheiður Steindórsdóttir (Elín) and Stuart Wilson standing outside Duchray Castle in Aberfoyle, Scotland.

Steindór Hjörleifsson who portrayed the character Lindholm, sadly passed away on 13th September 2012, it was his daughter, Ragnheiður Steindórsdóttir, who portrayed the character Elín. Ragnheiður recalled that the final scene in the production, filmed at Duchray Castle, was in fact the first scene she shot with Stuart Wilson, commenting that the first time she acted with Stuart, they were required to kiss. [2]

The following text accompanies the images:

Running Blind – A Spy At War
Alan Stewart – A British double agent whose dealings in international espionage and murder drive him to the brink of insanity. Retiring to Scotland, he is tracked down by his former spy boss and blackmailed into one ‘last’ assignment. Stewart’s final mission forces him into Iceland’s savage ‘Murderer’s Country’. There, teamed up with Icelandic beauty Elin, he faces an army of international killers in a war of survival.

Glacier of betrayal

The 120-minute presentation was released in Japan by Pony Canyon (ISBN 4-988013-524774) under licence from BBC Enterprises Ltd. The title, roughly translating as ‘Glacier of betrayal’, was the same title used for Bagley’s novel when published in Japan.

thevideo-running-blind-video-japanese

The transmission lengths of the original three episodes were:

Episode One – ‘The Messenger Boy’: 49min 24sec.

Episode Two – ‘Sixteen Rivers to Cross’: 49min 31sec.

Episode Three – ‘The Deception Operation’: 49min 52sec. [3]

The cliffhanger plot point of ‘The Messenger Boy’ is reached when Graham dies in the Land Rover. Elín says: “I’m not crying for Graham, I’m crying for you”, cut to Stewart closing rear door of Land Rover and then Graham’s face. On the 120 minute VHS version this occurs around 41min 51sec.

The cliffhanger plot point of ‘Sixteen Rivers to Cross’ is reached when Kennikin captures Stewart after the shoot-out at Reykjavik Harbour, saying to Stewart “Good day Herr Stewartsson, var forsiktig.” On the 120 minute VHS version this occurs around the 76min point, giving a VHS episode length of approximately 34min 48sec.

On the 120 minute VHS version, ‘The Deception Operation’ ends at 119min, giving a VHS episode length of approximately 43mins.

It appears that 7min 33sec of footage was cut from the first episode, 14min 43sec was cut from the second and 6min 52sec was cut from the third, making a total of 29min 8sec of cut footage.

Blind Escape

A 90-minute version was released in Norway in 1984 under licence from BBC Enterprises Ltd. The title, Blind Flukt roughly translates as ‘Blind Escape’.

running-blind-vhs-norwegian-1987-edited

The BBC’s Commercial team, who look to exploit the rich content available in the BBC archive, last looked at exploiting the rights to Running Blind with regard to a dvd release in the autumn of 2014. They discussed the series with various UK and international dvd distributors, however there was insufficient interest at that time as three-part series appear difficult to place in the market. The BBC have expressed an intention to explore interest again in the future, meanwhile should anyone be interested in acquiring the rights they should contact BBC Worldwide via the link here. [4]

Next: Miscellaneous articles and anecdotes relating to Running Blind


Notes

Images © BBC Scotland,  BFS Entertainment & Multimedia Limited & Pony Canyon.

1. Serpa, P. (2104) pers. comm 16th December 2014

2. Steindórsdóttir, R. (2014) pers. comm 30th July, 2014

3. My thanks to Eysteinn Guðni Guðnason for providing me with Icelandic RUV transmission records.

4. Farmer, A.  (2015)  pers. comm 26th February & 23rd March, 2015