The BEST Episodes of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Network: BBC Two

Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar-man, thief. George Smiley, the aging master spy of the Cold War and once heir apparent to Control, is brought back out of retirement to flush out a top level mole within the Circus. Smiley must travel back through his life and murky workings of the Circus to unravel the net spun by his nemesis Karla 'The Sandman' of the KGB and reveal the identity of the mole before he disappears.

Return to the Circus

#1 - Return to the Circus

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired Sep 10, 1979

George Smiley's quiet retirement is interrupted when messengers arrive from London Station and call upon George Smiley to come back into the game. Smiley is brought to Sir Oliver and it is revealed that a highly influential mole has been operating out of the Circus for quite some time.

star 8.26
409 votes
Writers: Arthur Hopcraft
How It All Fits Together

#2 - How It All Fits Together

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired Oct 1, 1979

Ricki Tarr becomes unstable and George Smiley must examine his past to find answers. He must examine his personal life as well as his past with the Circus, especially in regard to Control. He also reflects on his meeting with Karla, 'The Sandman'.

star 8.11
239 votes
Writers: Arthur Hopcraft
Tinker Tailor

#3 - Tinker Tailor

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired Oct 8, 1979

Smiley, now fortified with new information, goes to confront Jim Prideaux, an old spy who long since came in from the cold and is now a school teacher. Control, in his last days, seemed to have confided in him and sent him on a mission behind the Iron Curtain to find out who exactly the mole in the Circus was, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Rich man, or Poor man.

star 8.08
238 votes
Writers: Arthur Hopcraft
Smiley Sets a Trap

#4 - Smiley Sets a Trap

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired Oct 15, 1979

Smiley now has the information he needs and starts to stir things up with the men of which Control suspected one to be the mole. He is able to eliminate two, himself and one other. The waiting begins, when suddenly the message arrives that Prideaux has disappeared.

star 7.96
182 votes
Writers: Arthur Hopcraft
Smiley Tracks the Mole

#5 - Smiley Tracks the Mole

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired Sep 24, 1979

Now that Smiley has rejoined the game he must secretly procure the information and files needed to conduct his investigation. While Peter breaks into the Circus' archives and finds files that bring a whole new perspective to consider, Smiley goes to interview an old friend.

star 7.93
246 votes
Writers: Arthur Hopcraft
Flushing Out the Mole

#6 - Flushing Out the Mole

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired Oct 22, 1979

The waiting has paid off and the traps closes on Karla's mole. It is agreed to trade him against several English spies who were captured by the KGB, but Prideaux is still not found and he has an open account to settle with the mole. With the command structure of the Circus hollowed out and containment in progress, Smiley cannot come in from the cold but remains to pick up the pieces.

star 7.88
207 votes
Writers: Arthur Hopcraft
Tarr Tells His Story

#7 - Tarr Tells His Story

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired Sep 17, 1979

Ricki Tarr, an active agent, recounts a tale to the spy masters that sways Smiley in favour of returning to the Circus to secretly ferret out the mole. Tarr's tale is of The Sandmann, the KGB counterpart and nemesis of Smiley, and of his network in the Circus.

star 7.83
286 votes
Writers: Arthur Hopcraft