A Storyville documentary: how the most celebrated spy ring of the 20th century grew out of the class system, sexual hypocrisy and the incompetence of some people who ran Britain.
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# That's what you are
# Though near or far. #
There is something odd, I suppose, about anyone who betrays their country.
# Like a song of love
# That clings to me... #
But perhaps the oddest of all drank himself to death
here in Russia at the age of 52.
For the last years of his life,
he'd lived on the third floor of this apartment block in Moscow,
dreaming of England,
behind an unmarked door.
What I do remember physically about him was his mouth.
# In every way... #
I can actually remember looking at the man's mouth,
because it was very shiny.
# And forever more... #
My mother liked him. My mother liked him a lot.
I think she was a bit of a fag hag, you know.
To me, I'm sorry to say, the word was queer -
that was what they called themselves.
"We're all queer as coots."
12 years earlier, his disappearance one summer night
had delivered a body blow to British intelligence.
The heavens fell in.
They were absolutely stunned, they were aghast.
He was one of them - he came from the right school and university
and he could actually be extremely kind and loyal.
So why did Guy Burgess, and others in his gilded circle,
betray their class - and their country?
They were strange people, all these Cambridge spies, really strange.
Sometimes I think that it was the boredom of the British establishment
which made them spy for Stalin.
I think I knew he was a great sort of spy figure,
and I was rather alarmed by him.
Oh, how did you know that?
Well, one just...
We all knew!
All except us spy catchers, who only knew when he had gone.
# I'm a gambler
# I keep on taking chances
# And I'm playing with my time
# And if I lose
# Well, now, I ain't gonna wallow
# I keep laying it down
# Hard on the line
This is where it starts.
A clever boy, father just dead,
is a pupil at Britain's most famous public school.
SAT NAV: You have reached your destination.
And this, more or less, is where it ends...
The drink, the drink!
..the same boy portrayed as a washed-up exile,
drinking to stave off his loneliness.
-Aren't you feeling well?
Oh, yes, thank you.
-I'm perfectly all right.
Who are you?
The film was based on a real moment in Guy Burgess' life.
I love your frock.
It was the height of the Cold War.
Some famous British actors were performing in Moscow.
Not for a King upon whose property...
Sir Michael Redgrave, whom Burgess had known at university,
was playing Hamlet.
There was a sort of stir in the theatre, and this word went round -
Guy Burgess is in the building.
I saw him standing, looking very lost backstage,
and somebody said to me, "He's come round to see
"Michael Redgrave, and Michael won't let him in."
There was a sort of shabby glamour to him.
Craven A. For your throat's sake.
We certainly knew exactly who he was and what he'd done.
I thought, my God, to have chosen to live in this country,
because of some belief you had years ago -
he must've been in some kind of hell.
The road to hell had started here.
He'd arrived from Eton six months shy of his 20th birthday,
with a scholarship in history, a rich mother to support him,
and an unrestrained appetite for sex with other men.
If you look at the Trinity College coffee table book,
it talks about the fact that in the 1930s
homosexuality was thought to be more bonding than football.
In that sort of world, Burgess was an instantaneous success.
The intellect and the charm -
these are the two words that keep coming back time and again.
His brilliant intellect and his extraordinary charm.
There were many people whose opinion mattered
who were utterly in raptures about him.
One of them was a young don called Steven Runciman,
who came from a grand family near the Scottish border.
Runciman was just starting out on what became a magisterial career
as a Byzantine historian, and has left touching relics
of his infatuation with the brilliant budding spy.
If you open Steven Runciman's photo album,
the very first page from 1932, August '32,
they're all of Guy Burgess.
And these are Steven Runciman's diaries,
wonderful little tidily-written ones.
And here, October '32, for instance, "Tea with Guy.
"Lunch with Jack H and Guy.
"Guy. Lunch with Guy..."
Almost everyone that Burgess decided to seduce, he succeeded in doing.
They say that he tried to seduce the captain of the boat club
on the first night in Cambridge.
Fatefully, he also caught the eye of another stellar don,
mathematician turned art historian Anthony Blunt.
They're part of clearly this similar group, but Blunt is much older -
he's a don - and they're brought together, and in fact become lovers,
and eventually very, very close friends.
In those days, homosexuality was illegal but,
in some circles anyway, not socially taboo.
So, yes, this is my father, pretty much his last photograph,
the year he died.
Tim Johnston's father Kemball was neither gay nor particularly academic,
but he later became close friends with both Blunt and Burgess.
This was more of the period...
In fact, they were both godfathers to another son,
named Guy Anthony after them.
Well, our mother said how enormously she liked Guy and how much she
enjoyed his company, and what a pain it was that if you invited him
to anything you always had to have Anthony as well.
She found him very sort of stiff and self-interested,
I think the thing with Guy was his huge kind of
generosity of spirit,
which I think they certainly both enjoyed.
What Burgess longed for was an invitation to join the Apostles,
a secretive elite of Cambridge intellectuals.
Blunt was already a member,
and through him Burgess finally got his invitation.
Heaven on Earth.
Many of them were gay,
and I think there was a strong feeling that if they weren't being
recognised by society because of their sexuality
they didn't feel they had
any obligations to society themselves.
But outside the aesthetes' gilded cage, that society was facing a crisis.
European democracies had been weakened by the worldwide slump.
Fascism was on the rise.
America, for the most part, didn't want to get involved.
To young idealists at Cambridge, what offered hope was
the great social experiment in Russia called Communism.
I don't think there was any thinking person who was not pro-Russia, pro-Soviet.
Because Moscow was opposed to this...
Father had been on a walking tour of Germany and Austria,
I think about the time the Nazis came to power, and he could see -
he could see what they were like, he could see what they were becoming,
what was coming. Everybody could see it apart from these people.
"These people" were the British Government.
They were all sucking up to the Nazis.
Guy had been proclaiming his belief in Marxism ever since he'd arrived
at Cambridge, but he now had a real choice to make,
and his boyish confidence had taken a beating.
For one thing, he hadn't got the first class degree
everyone expected, pleading sickness when the exams came up.
And although the college allowed him to stay on another year,
new kids on the block were stealing his political thunder.
Most notably, this man, John Cornford...
..four years younger than Burgess, great grandson of Charles Darwin,
poet and political activist.
He frankly dwarfs Burgess in terms of importance in the circles of Cambridge Communism.
He was the great inspirational figure,
and he galvanised the student communist movement.
To Cornford, communism meant action on the streets -
not preaching Marxist theory to other privileged students.
This is Jane Bernal.
Her mother, Margot Heinemann, was a communist activist, too.
And, soon, Cornford's lover.
He was hard up at the time and not very interested in clothes
or material possessions, so he was actually very scruffy.
By contrast, the legend goes,
Burgess used to turn up on demonstrations wearing an old Etonian tie.
But in the Cambridge city archive,
you can find the first clue the security services missed -
the day he openly sided with communists against the established order.
There's a march to the war memorial on Armistice Day.
They assembled on Parker's Piece,
they walked along Trumpington Street where the Fitzwilliam Museum is,
and then the road narrows down quite abruptly outside Peterhouse College.
And at that point it really kicked off.
The toffs from the rowing clubs who were the opposition, as it were,
were buying up fruit and vegetable and fish from the stalls,
and pelting the marchers with them.
And Burgess' role is to drive a car which has been protected with
cushions, and basically ram the crowd.
So that's I think where he enters the stage, you know, as a communist,
a very open communist.
Roll on three years.
Cornford has been killed in the Spanish Civil War, while Burgess?
Well, he's found a different way to serve the cause.
And this is Guy Burgess at Cambridge University,
and we'll pretty quickly come onto this whole thing, the connection...
Stewart Purvis is leading a walking tour you can take through streets
that were practically colonised by Soviet agents during the '30s.
He's become an expert on the rival networks that lived cheek by jowl here.
You can walk down Lawn Road.
You start at number four, you've got a GRU building -
number nine is an NKVD building, number 12 is a GRU building.
And in the Isokon Gallery you've got the GRU and the NKVD.
One of those agents here was a man called Arnold Deutsch,
who'd arrived in England in 1933.
His cover story was studying psychology at London University.
Outside, I met Alexander Vassiliev,
who once worked for the KGB in Moscow.
With the benefit of hindsight,
he thinks the fact that Deutsch wasn't a typical Russian agent
was the key to his success.
He was an Austrian Jew,
and it's very important that after
the university in Vienna, he worked for a while for Wilhelm Reich,
who was a famous sexologist -
whose idea was that if you are sexually repressed,
you are a fascist.
Something like that, you know - better orgasms for a better world.
At the time the world seemed badly in need of Reich's treatment.
In this atmosphere Deutsch's brilliance was guessing that
in England it would be privileged people who would make good traitors.
Kim Philby, a friend of Guy's from Trinity was the first one he chose
on a bench in Regents Park.
Philby suggested others from Cambridge, including Donald Maclean,
son of a Liberal MP.
Philby created this list of seven people,
of which Maclean was at the top and Burgess, I think, was number seven.
In fact, Burgess was almost an afterthought.
Philby actually says that what happened was that
Burgess discovered, worked out, rather,
that Philby and Maclean had done something.
And in Philby's words, it was something esoteric and exciting
and they weren't involving Burgess.
So Philby says that he wasn't so much recruited, as he, kind of,
forced them to bring him inside
because he was more dangerous for them outside.
From the point of view of an average Soviet operative,
recruiting Guy Burgess was a huge mistake.
I would never recruit someone like that, just never.
He was difficult to control.
He talked too much, and he was homosexual.
But Deutsch, the sophisticated European, knew much better
than anyone in Moscow the society his agents had to penetrate.
Of course he knew the British society better than people at Lubyanka.
But, on that, I mostly blame his, you know, free spirit
in terms of sex. You know.
Burgess was recruited at the beginning of 1935.
He left Cambridge and went down to London, where he supported himself
partly from freelance journalism, partly from money from his mother...
..and partly by living among people who could help him.
That's Burgess's flat, over there.
Nice place to live, for a man without a proper job.
Burgess became, sort of, a right-wing fanatic.
His friends were completely amazed by this.
He gave them some really, kind of, feeble explanations of how
having convinced them that actually Communism was the only route,
suddenly, he wanted to go in the opposite direction.
Forget about overthrowing capitalism.
The intelligence service doesn't want to overthrow capitalism.
They want London to be against Berlin.
And in the case of the war, to support the seventh union against Hitler.
That's the only thing they wanted.
To consolidate his cover story Burgess wanted to get a job here,
then the newly opened headquarters of the BBC.
This is the place where the BBC store all their records.
I was intrigued to find out how Burgess persuaded them
that he'd put his Marxist youth behind him.
Andrew Lownie knows these files inside out.
The personal file will have the letters of recommendation and his application.
He showed me several letters backing Burgess,
including one from a real Cambridge heavyweight.
George Trevelyan, who is a professor of history at Cambridge,
who has written support of Burgess.
This is the end of 1935.
"I believe a young friend of mine, Guy Burgess,
"later scholar of Trinity, is applying for a post in the BBC.
"He is a first-rate man, and I advise you, if you can, to try him.
"He's passed through the communist measles that
"so many of our clever young men go through, and is well out of it."
With reassuring references like that, Burgess finally got what he wanted.
The BBC seemed pleased with his work, and the Russians were happy too.
His value to both was his bulging contact book.
One of his acquaintances was Churchill's niece,
Clarissa Spencer Churchill.
Her uncle Winston was fulminating on the backbenches,
at the British government's handling of the growing threat from Hitler.
It was rather depressing.
Rather shaming, in a way.
We knew we were in a jam. I knew because of my uncle,
who always said there was going to be a war, you know.
Keen to get non-appeasement voices onto the airwaves,
Burgess had approached Churchill...
Spoke to Mr Churchill's secretary.
..to introduce a major new radio series.
But Churchill declined.
And he says, look, I'm muzzled by the BBC.
I'm not going to do that,
because I know the BBC is under the control of the government.
Burgess asked Churchill if he could come down to his country house,
Chartwell, to discuss it.
They had this conversation and the best record of it is an audio tape
which Burgess made himself in which I'd describe it as
a short radio play, in which Burgess plays all the parts.
The visit to Chartwell became Burgess's favourite after-dinner story.
A recording of him telling it was eventually located in the FBI archive in America.
Burgess says that when he arrived, he started straight out
on the political crisis surrounding appeasement.
Personally, I said, I am in some despair and Mr Churchill said,
"My best answer will be to show you a letter."
The letter came from Mr Bennett of Czechoslovakia,
pleading for help against the Nazis.
"Here am I," said Mr Churchill, "an old man,
"and without party.
"What help shall I give?"
And I felt I said the right thing that moment and said, "Oh, Mr Churchill,
"don't be so downhearted.
"Offer him your eloquence."
This is Burgess's kind of finest hour, that, you know,
the man who saved Britain turned to Burgess at his hour of need
and Burgess gave him the answer.
I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler.
And here is the paper...
his name upon it as well as mine.
Whether dismayed by Neville Chamberlain's wretched piece of paper,
inspired by Churchill, or nudged into action by the Russians,
Burgess decided it was time to move on.
He resigned from the BBC in December, 1938,
his job there had already served its purpose.
Someone he'd met through broadcasting actually worked in MI6,
then housed in these nondescript buildings near Parliament.
The officer concerned took a shine to Burgess and secured him a job.
If you're a Soviet spy and you can either work in the BBC
or can work in MI6, it's not a difficult choice, is it?
But not for the last time, Moscow was suspicious.
Why had it been so easy?
And they said, "Do you think he suspects you," and he said,
"No, he doesn't suspect me,"
and he says, "Class blinkers, class blinkers."
Eton, my family and intellectual - people like me are beyond suspicion.
When war finally broke out, it was class blinkers all round.
Britain was staring defeat in the face and the intelligence services
needed to recruit people quickly.
Anthony Blunt, whom Burgess had recruited for the Russians,
was now recruited by MI5, too.
So was the very straight Kemball Johnston.
How did he come to join military intelligence?
Well, he was meant to be in the British Expeditionary Force
that ended up at Dunkirk.
But he missed Dunkirk, because he was invalided out.
He got pneumonia just about as they were about to be shipped off.
I think they lost his file after that and then he was sort of
hanging around waiting to be told what to do.
He was walking down the Strand, somewhere like that,
and he bumped into Kenneth Younger,
who was a very important person, I mean, high up and,
"Oh, Kemball, what are you doing?"
And he said, "Nothing much" and Kenneth Younger said,
"Why don't you come and join us in MI5?"
It was a bit like Our Man In Havana.
With equal ease, Burgess had slipped into what was called Section D of MI6.
He is the ideas man. He comes up with a lot of ideas. One of which
is a training college for agents to be sent into occupied Europe.
And this is where it was set up, in the Hertfordshire countryside,
an hour or so from London.
Guy nicknamed it Guy Fawkes College,
because of all the explosives they handled.
Hundreds of lectures about how to avoid being followed,
how to follow people,
how to send secret messages with several pages
of different recipes for secret ink,
how to make sure that you can get into places that you ought not
to be able to get into.
And the private delight of knowing his teachers were meant to be on the
same side as the people trying to catch him.
One side didn't talk to the other side.
Those responsible for implementing security when speaking to those that
were responsible for training people how to circumvent security.
His other master stroke was to bring onto the team a journalist with
experience of working in Europe
who just happened to be a Soviet spy as well.
After the fall of France,
he brought an old friend of his from Cambridge as a fellow lecturer,
Kim Philby, so he's the man who got Philby into MI6.
But... There was always a but with Burgess.
He, I'm afraid, lasts not quite as long in MI6 as Philby.
After a few weeks, he's kicked out for mucking about with a corporal.
By now, London was feeling the effects of war.
To avoid the call-up for active service, Burgess went back to the BBC.
The BBC are only too happy to have him back.
They're clearly short-staffed. They haven't got experienced people.
20th January, 1941,
"Mr Burgess since he left the Corporation has been
"in constant touch with government departments, in particular with
"the Service Departments and the contacts he has made and the
"relations he has established should be extremely useful to us now."
-'This is the BBC Home Service.
'and here is the news.'
Just what the Russians thought, too.
Even more so when he was made producer of
a prestigious radio programme, The Week In Westminster.
He found somewhere to live about five minutes' walk away from the BBC,
though, to their fury, he still charged for late-night taxis home.
Number five belonged to another friend of his from Cambridge,
Victor Rothschild, but he'd gone to live in the country,
leaving an open house for his friends.
For Burgess and Anthony Blunt,
it became somewhere between a love nest and a nest of spies.
He and Blunt, took rooms in Bentinck Street and they brought in
a whole series of their own chums.
Including the hard-drinking Kim Philby,
now on the rise at MI6.
And it became a sort of party house.
People were always popping in.
It had a basement which allowed people to shelter during air raids.
It was just off Oxford Street,
it was very central.
Mary Hardy, sister-in-law of one of his other great friends,
first met him around this time and didn't like him at all.
Did you get the feeling that he was seen nonetheless as the life and soul of the party?
Well, he clearly was. Everybody told me he was.
"Guy's coming", "Guy's coming into the room", and he came in with this great...
Taking up all the space and always with some sort of joke and then
everybody laughed and I thought, "This man is not funny,
"He isn't attractive."
I always felt he was thinking very carefully about what he said
before he said it. That's the sort of impression.
He was an actor man.
But whatever facade he presented,
the visitor who was the object of his abiding
and increasingly unrequited passion was this man, Peter Pollock.
I found this photo rooting around in Pollock's villa in Tangier,
several years after he died.
And it was there that the writer Miranda Carter had once
talked to Pollock about the spy who adored him.
-What did you think of him?
I was fascinated by his brain.
And what he knew, he knew so much.
You, too, adored Guy?
No, I didn't adore Guy at all.
I adored what he could pour into my lap.
He knew everybody.
-He really did.
-Everybody knew him.
Miranda Carter was researching her biography of Blunt.
From being Guy's mentor, he was now almost a disciple.
And Anthony was sort of hovering around on the fringes of it all, all the time.
I mean, he was obviously Guy's great friend and
Guy was the boss of everything.
What Peter Pollock also kept were the letters Guy had sent him over the years.
Take this letter, for instance.
"Oh, my, I love you still.
From early passion... "I miss you and send my love."
..to coping with Pollock's absence,
first as a prisoner of war
and then with the distance he put between them.
"I don't know why I haven't written for so long."
There's a sort of mournful,
plangent tone in a lot of these letters, as he realises they aren't
the lovers they once were.
"This letter doesn't seem to overflow with love,
"he says at the end, but I send all of it.
"Thanks for being so sweet, Guy."
Sex with Guy was never anything I particularly wanted
and it was part of the deal if you could call it a deal.
I got so angry with him once,
I went to bed with Anthony just to annoy Guy.
And there was a terrible scene.
Adding to the complexity of Bentinck Street life
was a brilliant young writer called James Pope Hennessy.
He'd enlisted with an anti-aircraft battery when war broke out but often called by.
James Pope Hennessy was absolutely besotted with Guy.
-Of course, Guy was rather pleased.
-Yes, this brilliant young literary star rising.
But that was making life tricky for another person in their circle,
Clarissa Spencer Churchill.
She was very fond of James but Guy was always in the way.
Well, he was just one of those people you,
you know, I mean, he was a bosom friend of James's.
One had to put up with him, so to speak.
Just get on and get to know him.
It was a sort of menage a trois, because Pope Hennessy was involved with Burgess.
Burgess had been tasked to get close to Clarissa.
The Russians had this bizarre idea
that as a niece of the Prime Minister,
she was privy to all sorts of secrets.
And that what Burgess should do is marry her.
After the war,
Churchill did attend his niece's wedding to his Foreign Secretary,
Anthony Eden. But according to Andrew Lownie's sources,
Burgess had planned many years earlier to be the one at her side.
That's new. Never heard that one.
Very, very unlike Guy, I should have thought.
He never gave me any indications
of wanting to know me better or anything, no. Never.
He never said or did anything that made me think that might be a plan.
Never flirted with you?
No, never. Absolutely never.
I mean, absolutely not, no.
London celebrates the end of the global war
as proclaimed by Prime Minister Attlee.
Peace has once again come to the world.
Peace had returned, yes, but nothing was quite the same.
Hitler was dead,
Churchill had been voted out,
and Stalin was now the great enemy.
It might have been the moment that Burgess gave up his secret life.
But it wasn't.
In fact, for the first time, he had access to real secrets,
thanks to a man whose own career had been advanced
by taking part in Burgess's programmes.
A man called Hector McNeil, a former journalist and Labour MP.
And it's through Hector McNeil that he gets his next most important job.
Which is... ?
Which is to work as a special adviser to Hector McNeil in the
Foreign Office, when Hector McNeil was made Minister of State in 1946.
Burgess was as pleased as punch.
He wrote this handwritten letter to the KGB and in it,
it's quite a long one, but he says,
the following: "This offer has been made officially and for that reason
"and since it is I think not only an important promotion,
"but one that can be put to good use."
That means good use for us.
"I shall accept it."
And then he goes on further down -
"My personal record and file was necessarily examined.
"We are now justified in saying that there can be no suspicion of any kind against me."
So Burgess was in and with the high Tories out,
it was quite a change of style at the Foreign Office.
Attlee's Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin had been
a trade union leader and McNeil wasn't an establishment type either.
McNeil was a bit of an outsider himself. He was effectively
a Glasgow newspaperman who had somehow ended up as a deputy
Foreign Secretary, so he was kind of looking for friendly spirits.
So suddenly, Burgess finds himself right at the heart
of the Foreign Office in the inner sanctums.
Burgess had access to all the papers that McNeil saw,
including Cabinet minutes, Cabinet agendas,
which not even senior diplomats in the Foreign Office had access to.
Burgess is very conscientious.
He offers to work late and to take documents home.
And, you know, there was no security.
No-one would have dared to challenge him as he left the building.
So it was industrial-scale espionage.
After years on the fringes of the big time,
Burgess the master spy had arrived.
The person through whom he'd pass information to Moscow changed from time to time.
The last of them was a man called Yuri Modin.
Modin is dead now, but in Moscow
we unearthed an interview which has never been broadcast before.
He recorded it with Russian Foreign Intelligence,
that place over there. In it,
he told a story of what happened back in England when
another officer went to collect Burgess's latest batch of secrets.
Whether that's a tall story or not,
what has now become clear from recently declassified documents
is that colleagues in the Foreign Office suspected nothing.
There's one conference in Paris where you see
Sir Alexander Cadogan of the Foreign Office sitting next to
the Russian delegate, and we know that Burgess was giving
Cadogan's papers to the Russian before they went into the room.
His Majesty's government have been compelled to draw from all this
that these restrictive measures were not introduced with the genuine
intention of defending the economy of the Soviet zone.
Burgess was giving an insight into thinking within the Foreign Office.
Not only about relations with America, but also,
US and UK thinking about what they were going to do with post-war Germany.
One of the people in the British delegation was a young diplomat
called Brian Urquhart. In his autobiography, he tells
how Burgess offended some important foreign diplomats by turning up
to a meeting drunk and heavily painted and powdered for a night
on the town. Urquhart reported this to Cadogan,
but he replied icily, that the Foreign Office
traditionally tolerated innocent eccentricity.
Burgess, Urquhart notes dryly,
was notorious long before he was known to be a Soviet agent.
That was something Roger Lockyer confirmed to me.
Among his gay friends in London Burgess was a hero.
He was widely spoken of, as somebody who was setting a standard, in a way,
which we ought to try and live up to.
A standard in refusing to be browbeaten.
And one couldn't but admire the way in which he did it.
What was it that you heard?
We heard that he refused to kowtow,
that when the authorities had said, "Well, you know, you ought to,
"sort of, be less transparently gay, homosexual, queer."
He just refused to have any
truck with that.
On Valentine's Day, 1949,
Burgess went out for the evening with a colleague in Hector McNeil's office.
Burgess and Fred Warner had gone in to the upstairs bar,
along a flight of steps.
And at some point, coming out, probably very much the worse for wear.
They had either had some
banter or an argument, playful pushing, or aggressive pushing.
Whatever happened, Burgess ended up at the bottom of the stairs,
and of course, seems to have sustained some sort of injury around here.
Just how serious the injury was is impossible to know.
But what is known is that he started taking strong painkillers
without changing his drinking habits.
Mixing codeine and alcohol means that you become completely unpredictable,
there is even evidence, although, again, it's anecdotal,
that the KGB spotted this in London,
and they became alarmed that he became someone out of control.
At the end of 1949, Burgess decided to take a holiday with his mother,
perhaps to recover from his injuries.
It turned into a sort of bedroom farce,
with spies playing all the main parts.
Scene one, Gibraltar.
Then, as now, a chip of old England,
on the fringe of Europe.
These are photographs that I've dug up in searching for things.
There's a photograph of my father meeting Franco.
The cast list included Desmond Bristow,
a wartime friend of Kim Philby's, who ran the Iberian section of MI6.
This is his licence to bear arms.
Which he was given so he was allowed to carry a gun around in Madrid and in Spain.
HE SPEAKS SPANISH
Another player in this piece was Ken Mills, head of MI5 in Gibraltar.
The Mills family lived over there,
in that house covered in scaffolding.
It was opposite the governor's house, in Governor's Lane.
So, we used to look out of the window and see sentries,
keeping guard, which is all, for children, very exciting.
Burgess and his mum checked into the Rock Hotel where all the best people
stayed. His immediate problem was the £50 limit on holiday money then
enforced by the British government.
And so he was put in touch with my father,
in the hope that he would be able to change his travellers cheques,
or give him some cash.
And so my father rang Desmond Bristow in London...
Pa's response was, "Oh, yes, I do know that little poof."
Don't touch him with a barge pole.
But the Mills ignored that advice,
and asked Burgess around to Governor's Lane for a drink.
Several drinks, in fact.
I think I was both fascinated and repelled by this person at the
same time. There was something about the atmosphere about the man.
There was something edgy, and out of control about him, which as a child,
I sort of, picked up on.
If the holiday had ended there, no harm would have been done.
But Burgess couldn't resist the lure of Tangier, a short way by sea,
but a million miles from respectable Gibraltar.
Tangier was utterly thrilling, it was so different from Europe.
Tangier itself was a teeming city,
it was full of people selling things,
squatting on the ground,
carpets laid out.
Wonderful brass pots hanging from walls.
It was utterly exciting.
This, when Burgess was here, was the home of the head of MI6.
I haven't been here a long time.
Now there is a new owner.
His redoubtable predecessor was a woman called Teddy Dunlop.
Desiree Buckingham, known as Dizzy, knew her well.
She lived here, her husband was a doctor, who delivered me into the world.
And they were wonderful gardeners.
Did people know that she worked for MI6?
I think so, yes. Yeah.
Well, my parents certainly knew.
Guy Burgess did not hit it off with Teddy Dunlop.
As soon as he arrived he installed his mother in an elegant hotel,
and set off into town.
That bleak doorway was the place he headed for.
In those days, a bar, owned by a man called Harry Dean.
That's where the sign used to be.
That's where the bar used to be.
Everyone used to go there, and he used to serve alcohol,
so either they nodded and winked, and agreed with the authorities,
or it was completely illegal.
I have no idea.
And not just alcohol.
There'd been these terrible complaints about Burgess,
because he'd been going around Tangier in all the gay places, and of course,
you know, there was a fairly large homosexual community in Tangier,
but it was all very quiet and very hush-hush.
And he had gone around nicking what they called "bum boys",
from fairly important characters
and had run out of money.
A worried Teddy Dunlop rang Ken Mills for advice.
My father went over there, and they met up with Burgess again,
and they had an encounter where he got very drunk and revealed
the existence of a Swiss person who used to bring information
to Teddy Dunlop, and my father as far as I know.
Let's go up higher and see if we can find a Dunlop.
The person showing me around is Jonathan Dawson.
I guess he's like many of those stylish,
exuberant characters who lived here in the '50s.
We're searching for Teddy Dunlop's grave.
Born in Darjeeling, 1906, died in Tangier, 1969.
Margaret Isobel, Teddy Dunlop, that's her. That's Teddy.
Teddy Dunlop was a woman of the world,
but even she was appalled by Burgess.
Once Guy Burgess had left,
my father and Teddy decided to make a formal complaint about him,
because they felt he was a risk to security.
What they thought in Tangier was one thing,
what they thought in London, another.
The deputy head of MI5 was Guy Liddle,
who belonged to the same club as Burgess.
Not only was Guy Liddle very relaxed about the nature of the complaints that were made,
he came close to advising Guy Burgess on how to handle it.
Guy Burgess knew Guy Liddle well enough to be able to ring him up
on his private line, get straight through to
the Deputy Director General of the security service, and chat to him
in very friendly terms about this indiscretion.
They really seemed to take it in their stride.
It seemed to be that Guy Burgess constantly behaved like this,
and that it was a perfectly forgivable way of behaving
and that they weren't going to do anything about it.
Instead of Burgess being sacked, it was his accuser, Ken Mills,
who found himself in trouble.
Ken then went to London and got fairly seriously reprimanded for
basically, what he called,
I think it was almost like he had sneaked on a friend of his,
who was a fellow Brit.
Bill Bristow's insights come from the book he co-wrote with his father.
A book they had to publish abroad to get around the MI6 censor.
Had his father thought Guy was being protected?
He certainly had protection from Hector McNeil.
He was a powerful figure.
But I think there must have been other people who were prepared to
turn a blind eye to what Burgess was doing, or perhaps, protecting him.
In Moscow they now understood what made Burgess special
as Modin had been telling them all along.
It takes your breath away now.
# I'm a gambler,
# I keep on taking chances... #
Instead of the sack, Burgess gets posted to America,
despite the fact that he was openly anti-American,
and the embassy didn't want him anyway.
# I keep laying it down hard on the line. #
What the Foreign Office personnel department thought it was doing
by posting Burgess to the United States is really anybody's guess.
I suppose they concluded that an embassy as large as Washington
would be an environment in which
even somebody with his eccentricities might go unnoticed.
Pretty feeble assessment, isn't it,
on their part, on all counts?
Well, in retrospect, it was absolutely catastrophic.
Stanley Weiss is one of the great American industrialists.
Friend to famous figures of our time.
But in 1950, he was not happy.
I had spent a year in Paris,
had a great love affair which ended.
I was broken, I was really in a terrible shape.
So he came to Southampton and boarded a liner bound for America.
I decided I'd go somewhere and have a drink,
and I went into the cabin class,
which is where the English diplomats were put,
and I saw this rather distinguished-looking guy,
and I sat down next to him.
And we struck up a conversation.
He liked to drink and I liked to drink.
So we became friends.
It was Guy Burgess.
The crossing took several days, and the two men met frequently.
After we'd had I don't know how many gins and tonics,
which he introduced me to, I had to go and pee.
He went too.
And he's the only person, man, who ever made a pass at me.
And he... He tried to kiss me, and I said, "You know, you scratch!"
And then I said, "Look, I'm not a homophobe, but that's not for me."
He didn't seem to mind it at all.
Already in America was his fellow Soviet agent, Kim Philby,
who'd been sent there nearly a year before by MI6.
You might call this Embassy Road.
In fact, I think they do.
Because most of the grand houses along here are all embassies.
You'd have thought that normal spycraft might mean steering
well clear of Philby in public.
Well, Burgess took a room in Philby's house.
Well, it was obviously quite a large house.
It was stood in some grounds,
and we had wonderful pavements where I used to roller-skate.
He had a room in the basement.
I don't think he catered for himself downstairs.
I don't think there was any catering facilities.
There might have been a washing machine,
but he probably didn't use that either.
Everything's changed a bit now.
But this, actually,
was the room that Burgess would have then lived in.
It was the spare bedroom.
Somewhere under there you can see the bed.
The British Embassy, about a mile away,
was the grandest of the grand.
His new job meant he worked up there, near Philby on the first floor.
It's open plan now, but in those days this was a corridor,
known as the Rogue's Gallery,
with several small offices off it. Philby had one of them, Burgess,
though far junior, another.
Burgess gets to Washington. No-one actually really wants him there.
He's ostensibly meant to be working in the Far Eastern department.
Quite quickly, he is kicked out and put in the leasing department.
And they kick him out pretty quickly, and so, really,
by the end of the year, only a few months after he's arrived,
he's got this rather nebulous job reporting on American public opinion.
Which requires him to sit in bars all day and drink,
which is what suits him perfectly, down to the ground.
Philby, by contrast, was handling top-secret material.
Messages the Americans had been intercepting between Moscow
and their agents in the field.
The eavesdropping project was being run by the FBI.
One thing they'd already worked out was that a few years before,
a Soviet spy codenamed Homer had been operating
from the British Embassy in Washington.
Philby knew it was only a matter of time before MI5 back in London
worked out what he already knew.
That Homer was their Cambridge friend, Donald Maclean.
It's hard to imagine what was going through his mind.
He must have been aghast at having to deal with Burgess,
having Burgess live in the same house as him, at that very critical time.
MUSIC: Worried Man Blues by Woody Guthrie
Maclean was now back in England.
And Philby's problem was how to warn him without incriminating himself.
Intentionally or not, Burgess provided the answer.
Almost the only thing he liked about America was its cars.
He bought himself a white Lincoln Continental convertible.
And at the end of February, 1951,
he'd got in it to drive to South Carolina.
The embassy had been asked to provide a speaker at a military college in Charleston.
The trip was not a great success.
First of all, he's caught speeding three times in the same day,
in the same state.
And then he turns up at this conference, and is drunk,
gives a rambling speech, and various reports come in to the embassy.
And they've been looking for a reason to get rid of him
and this is their opportunity.
The ambassador told Burgess to pack his bags.
He started his farewells by suggesting an outing
with Stanley Weiss that had parallels with his own life.
We went to see a film called The Mudlark.
About an outsider like himself, who'd lost his father when he was young.
I ain't got no mother.
Who looks after you, your dad?
No, I ain't got no dad either.
I remembered especially because he always carried a bottle of bourbon
or something with him.
And in the middle of the thing he dropped the bottle,
and it broke open, and the whole place emptied out.
And that's when he said, well, why don't you come back to my pub,
I'd like to read you The Sheltering Sky.
A new book, set in the world where Burgess had caused mayhem,
just a year earlier.
I said, "No monkey business. No monkey business."
So we went back there, and that's when I met Kim Philby.
Burgess's pub, as he called it, turned out to be Philby's home.
At the time, when Philby was there, he kept saying, you know, he's a spy.
And, well, I didn't take it seriously.
I mean, Kim Philby, a spy?
I mean, you must be kidding.
In fact, a deadly serious game was now in play.
Philby now had a safe way of warning Maclean.
But he knew that if anything went wrong, they were all sunk.
So the consummate schemer had an insurance plan.
I went down to see Nigel West,
he's been roaming for years through this hall of mirrors.
He promised to show me a private memo Philby had written to MI6
just before Burgess sailed for England.
I have it here. It is really one of the most extraordinary documents
of the Cold War. Dated 2nd April, 1951.
This was the final brick in the wall, that nailed Maclean.
What Philby points out is that although Homer,
or Gomer as it appears in Russian,
had been operating out of the embassy in Washington,
all the messages they'd intercepted had been sent from New York.
So all that MI5 had to do was to try and find somebody
at the Washington embassy who'd been travelling
on a regular basis up to New York.
And the only person that the shoe fitted, was Maclean.
And Maclean was meant to be his friend.
Really, the only explanation is self-preservation.
Burgess's part in the Philby plan was just to warn Maclean, nothing else.
He took the boat train to London, to find Blunt waiting to meet him.
That should have been the end of the matter as far as he was concerned.
But Burgess was addicted to starring in his own life story.
A day or two later, the phone rang at a house by the River Thames.
It was the home of a long-standing friend, called Goronwy Rees.
He rang up and said he'd come back from America,
and could he come and see them.
And my sister, who didn't like him, she said, he's always bad for Rees.
Rees is absolutely in thrall to him.
He's got some sort of a hold over him.
I don't know what it is.
In fact, they had a hold over each other.
Before the war Burgess had recruited Rees to work for the Soviet Union too.
Initially Rees had agreed, but then changed his mind,
leaving each acutely vulnerable to the other's discretion.
The first I saw him was coming through the door at Falcon House,
and my sister said, don't leave them alone for a minute.
If they get up and go for a walk in the garden, go with them.
That kind of thing. Listen to everything that's said.
Everything about him was just up to the eyebrows.
Dropping his voice to a whisper with these, "Desperate secrets of state
"I'm telling you that nobody else must know about, Rees."
At around six, Rees and Burgess went down to the pub.
Mary, true to her sister's instructions, went along to listen in.
She said, "What did they talk about?
"What's happening? What does he want Rees to do now?"
And when they'd gone, Rees said, I heard him say to Margy,
"I think he's a spy." I think something terrible is going on.
Rees says, I think Guy is a spy?
Yes, he did. They sat up half the night thinking, God, what do we do?
I'm in trouble, and I should be sent somewhere
and I don't want that.
Over the next few days,
Burgess took himself off to Cambridge for an Apostle's dinner.
He then went drinking with old friends.
The Russians, meanwhile, were puzzling over how to get Maclean out.
They assumed that the ports and airports would all be
on the lookout for him, and there was no time to forge papers.
It was Blunt who came up with the answer.
The interview was going to take place on Monday morning.
When Maclean came into work, he was going to be approached,
escorted to Leconfield House, and then he would be cross-examined.
But Maclean was losing his nerve,
and said he'd rather face interrogation then try escaping.
The Russians turned to Burgess for help. They knew
it was dangerous to involve him, but time was running out.
On Thursday, 24th May,
Burgess and Maclean had lunch at The Reform Club.
The fact was reported back to MI5,
but nothing was made of Burgess's presence.
During April/May 1951, Burgess was not an espionage suspect.
He was friendly with the Deputy Director General
of the security service, so he was, in a sense, above suspicion.
The following day, 25th May,
Maclean left work early to celebrate his 38th birthday.
Unnoticed by anyone,
Burgess was hurrying around London buying cruise tickets,
and hiring a car.
In their headquarters in Curzon Street,
the MI5 case officers were sitting around a table,
planning Maclean's interrogation,
sublimely unaware of what was actually happening.
No reason to suppose that he was about to defect.
His wife was pregnant, and one of his two children was ill.
That was a miscalculation.
His wife, Melinda, was a tough-minded American.
Maclean and his family lived in a large house south of London.
Burgess arrived in his hired car, guessing the place was bugged.
Burgess introduces himself for the benefit of the listeners as
Roger Styles, he takes the name from two Agatha Christie novels.
The two men have dinner with Melinda.
Maclean says good night to his two young sons,
and then the two of them drive down the 100 miles to Southampton
to catch the midnight crossing.
Whether Burgess had already made up his mind to defect,
rather than just leave Maclean in France, is anybody's guess.
As it was, they only just made the boat in time.
Back in London, the phone rang.
They were stood in the office.
They continued working until about midnight,
when they received a fateful message.
An immigration officer in Southampton had spotted a man
answering Maclean's description boarding the SS Falaise.
MI5's instructions had been to look out for him, not to stop him.
So he was now sailing to France, and Burgess was with him.
The meeting had been breaking up, people were going to go home,
but they sit down again, and they decide on what to do.
Which was to send one of their best men, Dick White,
to meet the ship in Saint-Malo.
White goes home, grabs his passport, goes to the airport,
but when he gets to the airport,
he realises that his passport is out of date.
So now what?
There was no MI5 officer in Paris,
the secret intelligence service station was closed for the weekend.
No-one outside the room knew what had happened.
No-one inside could think what to do.
So they went home for the weekend themselves.
It's not quite like in the movies, is it?
This is a very bureaucratic organisation.
There are limits on what these intelligence officers can accomplish.
-'This is the BBC Home Service, and here is the news.
'The Foreign Secretary made his expected statement
'in Parliament today, about the disappearance of the two
'Foreign Office officials, Mr Maclean, and Mr Burgess.'
By the time the British public got to know,
Burgess and Maclean were a long way away.
According to the Russians, they had got a taxi to Rennes,
a train from there to Paris, and then on to Switzerland.
In Zurich, Russian officials gave them false papers,
and put them on a plane going to Stockholm, via Prague.
Back in London, there were several shades of panic in high places.
The security service, they had bungled, but they couldn't
bring themselves to admit the full-scale of the bungle.
No-one really knew what to make of it.
Burgess was known to be left wing in his sympathies,
but not believed to be bright enough to be a communist agent.
It was only within the first week that they started asking themselves,
whether Burgess might actually have been something that could shock them all.
MI5 contacted Blunt. They knew he was friendly with Burgess.
He, of course, had been the right-hand man to
the head of counterespionage, Guy Liddle.
When he fled, Guy Burgess had been living in a flat just off Piccadilly
with a man called Jack Hewitt.
Blunt said that he would very kindly get the key off Jack Hewitt,
and he would open up for MI5, who wanted to get in.
Blunt turned up with the key and found two MI5 men waiting.
The two officers sort of, turned, very casually to Blunt, and say,
"Perhaps you'd like to give us a hand?"
And all three of them go up to the flat.
Blunt, of course, used the opportunity to dry clean the flat,
and make sure there were no incriminating papers left behind.
Unfortunately, he didn't do enough dry-cleaning,
and they did find some material.
Including an astonishingly personal letter
from a woman called Esther Whitfield,
which she had specifically asked Guy Burgess to destroy.
The significance of this letter is that this was a letter which nobody
was ever meant to see, other than Guy Burgess.
The agent's report stated that Burgess was actually engaged to be
married to Esther Whitfield, and what made that doubly significant
was that she was Philby's personal secretary in Washington.
Esther worked in the Rogue's Gallery.
This was a highly secure part of the embassy, where, basically,
the MI6 and MI5 people were based.
And given that Philby was a big person inside MI6,
she would have been seeing all sorts of fascinating documents.
And she was the one who, of course,
got the message late at night saying that Burgess had flown.
A badly shaken MI5 thought they detected the whiff of a conspiracy.
You actually see, in some of the documents,
where they are linking Maclean, Burgess, Philby and Whitfield
as if there are potentially, a kind of, foursome of spies.
Esther had, in fact, said no to Guy's proposal,
but it was enough to get the head of MI5, no less,
scurrying out to Washington to interrogate her.
Because, I think, they took it seriously that she might be
a member of the ring. The telegram that was sent,
saying that she had been engaged to Burgess, actually says,
no documents about this should be shown to Philby or his secretary.
It didn't help when it emerged that for a whole year,
all three had been living under the same roof.
I remember Esther, but I didn't know what her role was at all.
She was just a friend of the family, as far as I knew.
Esther was in the attic,
with a retractable ladder going up there
and Burgess was placed in the basement.
I mean, I didn't even know that she worked with Dad, but then,
as children, you don't really question what your father's doing.
The attic's changed a bit since then, but it was probably up here
that she wrote the letter which Burgess left in his flat when he fled.
"Guy," it says, "there is one thing
"I'd like to say to you about the bed."
It had obviously not been very successful in bed.
And then she goes on...
She could have lived with the absence of "the bed",
but she couldn't have lived without the attention,
care and interest that she would have wanted from her husband.
The evidence that she was involved in spying was flimsy,
the evidence that Burgess, at 40, was growing tired of the wild side,
rather stronger, but it didn't save her from the nervous mandarins.
She was sacked from the service, and indeed, continually, I would say,
harassed by MI5 after that.
And she never got married?
She never had another relationship with anyone.
Philby was recalled to London, and also sacked.
But he wasn't charged with anything,
and for decades information trickled out only through nods and winks.
Almost nothing reached the National Archives here.
But in the last two years that has begun to change,
and although the picture is still incomplete,
for historians like Jeff Hulbert, it's been a gold mine.
What much of it shows,
is that their immediate headache was not where the missing diplomats
might be, but what to tell the Americans about their blunder.
A top secret committee of enquiry was set up,
under Sir Alexander Cadogan, remember him?
The Foreign Office boss who, three years before,
had called Burgess's behaviour "innocent eccentricity".
One of the pieces of evidence they considered was a report by
Robin Hooper, then head of personnel at the Foreign Office.
He went to the nub of the matter -
could being homosexual have anything to do with becoming a traitor?
It's called, "The problem of homosexuality in relation to employment in the Foreign Service."
Nearly 70 years after it was written,
it seems surprisingly liberal in its treatment.
It reports a balance of medical opinion that
essentially says it's in the genes, and so therefore it is natural.
It is not something that either can be treated, or ought to be treated.
But he did list some of the risks.
It's very interesting,
he's saying that they are under psychological stress,
of one sort or another.
Then he makes the point that there is a solidarity between homosexuals,
which may, in certain cases, override other loyalties.
The report was buried.
It was Robin Hooper's son, Martin, who tipped me off about its existence.
When was the last time you were in this building?
My goodness, that was the Coronation, 1953!
My father's office was up on the first floor,
with the finest view of The Mall that you could ever hope for.
It was known in those friendly circles as Hooper On Buggery.
Cadogan's own report is an exercise in damage limitation.
Burgess had been severely admonished after the Tangier business, it said.
Yes, there was talk of him being a homosexual, but no hard evidence.
And anyway, no need to tell the public.
The report goes to the Permanent Secretary,
the boss of the Foreign Office.
It goes to the Foreign Secretary, it goes to the Prime Minister,
and it goes to the Cabinet Secretary.
And that's where it stops.
And their recommendations after this fiasco?
Well, maybe some positive vetting would be a good idea.
But the three wise men concluded,
nothing was radically wrong inside the Foreign Office.
There is a telling phrase in the report, which is,
it refers to, "In public school parlance."
"It would be distasteful to encourage the notion that it is
"a duty of every member of the service to watch the behaviour of
"his colleagues, in school parlance, to blab about them to the head."
So, in other words, don't tell on your colleagues
if they are doing something that you disapprove of,
because that's not the way British people do things.
But not every British citizen got off so lightly.
The Conservatives returned to power in October,
and the new Home Secretary, took a quite different line
on what sort of lifestyle was beyond the pale.
He made no secret of the fact that he was going to lead a crusade
to get rid of this appalling vice, and so...
I mean, we regarded him as the enemy incarnate.
One really felt persecuted.
By then, Burgess had his own peculiar punishment to endure.
Living with Donald Maclean in the closed city of Kuybyshev,
now known as Samara.
And this is the building where they lived, then a new block,
just completed by German prisoners of war.
The two strangers were known to locals as Jim Elliott and Mark Fraser.
They each had an apartment upstairs, and amazingly,
we found a woman living there who'd met them then
and now had one of the flats they'd occupied.
They didn't go out much, she said.
Maclean set about learning Russian, but Burgess never bothered.
And when they left,
Genrietta discovered that both of them had been under surveillance
all the time they were here.
Five years later,
two men walked from this hotel in Moscow across the square,
and into the rather more ornate National Hotel.
They were then escorted up to the first floor, and into room 101.
Waiting inside were two Western journalists, and two Russians,
about to be given a world scoop.
The first encounter with Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess since they'd disappeared.
This was the Sunday Times headline the next day.
Burgess and Maclean had handed out a statement,
insisting they'd been working for peace.
They hadn't been spying, and they weren't answering any questions.
But somehow, Burgess had contrived to earn this headline.
And now he'd broken cover, there was no stopping him.
Tom Driberg, a Labour MP
with a comparably edgy sex life came out to Moscow to see him.
Soon afterwards, Burgess's account appeared in print.
Sticking to his story that he was not a spy,
but a sympathetic tourist.
In Moscow last week, Close Up met Guy Burgess,
and interviewed him in the shadow of the Kremlin.
And finally, an appearance on television.
It's no use me saying I'm not a traitor.
That means nothing. Of course I'm not.
But it's only I who know that.
I went abroad, I was a tourist.
There are still a lot of people who leave England to live abroad,
for various reasons, nobody thinks it's odd.
Though I think it's wrong there are people who go to live in Kenya,
because only there can they afford to keep butlers.
I live in the Soviet Union because I have, all my life,
since I was a student, been a socialist.
And the Soviet Union is the leading socialist country in the world.
The interview was shot in the gardens near where he lived.
Not exactly in the shadow of the Kremlin,
but not far from the city centre.
He lived on the third floor.
Someone told us that Burgess's flat was the one without a number,
but that the woman in the flat next door had been there when he was there.
She wouldn't open the door, or talk about this hero of the Soviet Union.
He drank a lot of cognac, she said, not much of a hero.
These days, Helen Sommerville works occasionally in an antique shop in West London.
But back in 1960, she was working for MI5.
Her job was to distribute the mail that had been intercepted
by the Post Office in central London,
which included all the letters Guy Burgess was sending
to England from his exile in Moscow.
They steamed them open with a kettle. Well, I know they did,
because I was taken down there to have a look.
I remember, particularly, were the ones to his mother,
which were really pathetic.
They were so sad, and he was so, you know, pouring out his unhappiness.
His mother, Evelyn Bassett,
had been out to see him soon after his reappearance.
But she was now too old to travel.
In the past, Burgess had often taken refuge at her home in the country.
But as hope dwindled of ever seeing that home again,
Guy fastened greedily onto any friends who came to Russia.
The artist, Julian Trevelyan, for instance,
had been in the pro-Soviet set at Trinity.
Anybody who was anybody at Cambridge was considered to be a communist.
And, no, Julian was left wing.
In 1960, Julian and his wife, fellow artist Mary Fedden,
went to Russia to see an old friend called Ralph Parker.
Family photograph album, is it?
Yes. The story in Julian's diary is that when they arrived,
there was Ralph Parker, there was Julian, there's Mary,
and Ralph must have handed Mary a little note.
And on it was said, "Come and see me the moment you reach Moscow."
Signed Guy Burgess.
It was like something out of a Graham Greene film or something.
"We then had lunch with Guy Burgess,
"who lives in a block of rather dingy flats near a monastery,
"with kids playing all around.
"His flat is stacked with books and records,
"and he's looked after by an old babushka
"who shouts at him when he tries to go out into the street in his silk
"pyjamas. Delicious lunch, cold soup, vodka and Hock.
"He is full, and well looked after in Moscow, he says."
Every day we were in Moscow we saw him.
This is Guy, here.
He was so eager to talk to English people, and people from home,
and he was very homesick.
He longed to come home, but knew that he would go to prison if he did.
Back in London, they went on steaming open Guy's letters,
in case he gave something, or someone, away.
Anthony Blunt, I remember him,
because he was another person who I knew was of interest.
By now, Anthony Blunt was Sir Anthony Blunt,
and Surveyor Of The Queen's Pictures.
And what sort of things were in the letters to Blunt?
Mainly, as far as I remember, describing his boyfriends,
his new boyfriends, and their various attributes.
Physical attributes, with little sketches.
Little sketches of what?
Not their faces!
# You'll be sorry... #
But sex wasn't what he was lacking.
The KGB had turned a blind eye to his excursions into the streets for
company, and found a young man called Tollya to live with him.
But since Tollya didn't speak English,
and Burgess hardly spoke Russian, the relationship had its limits.
Unlike Donald Maclean, who by now did speak Russian,
and had his family with him, Burgess lived alone, tended by Tollya,
and a long-suffering KGB housekeeper, called Auntie Nadia.
Ira Gorbachova didn't really know Burgess himself,
but knew all about him from her friends, the Macleans.
One night, when she was baby-sitting for them, the phone rang.
At the beginning of 1963, his old friend Kim Philby fled to Moscow too.
Had it not been for Burgess
breaking his promise to Philby not to defect with Maclean,
this man might have ended up as head of MI6.
But Philby's widow, Rufina, told me they never met to talk about it.
The KGB told Philby that Burgess didn't want to see him,
and then told Burgess that Philby didn't want to see him.
A few months later, Burgess was dead.
Memories of him forever defined by his treachery more than his talent.
I always thought he was a bad lot. For God's sake,
how could that man have been so important.
There's his Russian name - dear Jim Andreevich Elliott.
These are the banners that were draped on his coffin
at his funeral in Moscow, attended by the Macleans,
his younger brother, Nigel, and of course, the KGB.
There were no gigantic secrets that he betrayed,
it was really his connections and his political analysis
that I think made him of value.
Oh, yes, underneath "Guy Burgess", in smaller lettering.
He was really flattered by their interest in him,
and they were obviously very clever at keeping him warm and keeping him
happy, although there were moments when they just wondered
if he was a complete fake.
The banners are now at the home of Guy's nephew, Anthony Burgess,
along with the handwritten will - grisly document, as he called it.
Burgess had long given up hope of ever seeing his home again
when he wrote it, but his bequests are tinged with deeper regrets.
Burgess wanted his possessions to be divided in four -
one quarter to Anthony Blunt,
the friend and lover he led towards treachery,
one quarter to Esther Whitfield, the woman he carelessly betrayed,
one quarter to Tollya,
who was immediately sucked back into the KGB shadows,
and one quarter to Philby.
Signed by Guy Burgess.
But not a whiff of recantation.
I think this is the great paradox about Burgess,
that even though he was well aware, throughout his career,
of what the Soviet Union was like, he still believed in it.
They have a phrase in Russia,
a nonparty Bolshevik.
I would be very proud indeed if I had earned such a title.
If you are this kind of person, who loves having this secret power,
to know something nobody else knows, then espionage is for you.
But if you are a professional spy, you quite quickly understand that
you don't mean much in this world.
# I'm a gambler
# I keep on taking chances
# And I'm playing with my time
# And if I lose well
# Now I ain't gonna wallow
# I keep laying it down hard on the line... #
It was a scandal that shook the British establishment to its roots. In June 1951, the government was forced to admit that two Foreign Office diplomats had disappeared. One of them, Donald Maclean, had slipped through their fingers three days before he was due to be questioned for passing secrets to the Russians. The other, Guy Burgess, was a total surprise. He was a charming, clever Etonian, with powerful friends everywhere. And lovers too - at a time when homosexuality was illegal, Burgess made no secret of his sexual tastes. He turned out to be the most flamboyant of a ring of privileged Cambridge students who had secretly joined the Communists in the 1930s, disgusted by their own government's policy of appeasing Hitler.
With the help of newly declassified documents, George Carey's film shows how the most celebrated spy ring of the 20th century grew out of the class system, sexual hypocrisy and the sheer incompetence of some people who then ran Britain.