The Original James Bond, Sidney Reilly ‘Ace of Spies’ is back on TV screens

last tsar of russia
Sidney Reilly ‘Ace of Spies’ as seen in the novel….

The Two Lives of Grand Duke Michael

The Original James Bond is back on TV screens

There has been a reappearance of the much applauded 12-part TV series of `Reilly Ace of Spies` on UK television.  The channel to watch out for is`Talking Pictures` and is screened at 9.00 p.m. each Tuesday.  It can also be seen on YouTube.

Sam Neil takes the part of Sidney Reilly and magnificently exudes James Bond as it was and should have been intended in a dramatization of the life of the first British MI6 superspy.

Apart from the dramatization process to bring vibrancy to TV, this 1983 production is a very real adaptation of Reilly as can be read about in the book written by Robin Lockhart…. `Reilly Ace of Spies` published in 1967. Robin was the son of Bruce Lockhart who was a contemporary of Reilly working together as spies in early years of the last century.

Ian Fleming was a close pal of Lockhart who retold the exploits of Reilly to Fleming and are seen in Lockhart’s  book which was filmed in 1934…`Memoirs of a British Agent.`  It is certain that Fleming used Reilly as a counterweight and role model as he went on to invent further modern-day twists to this superspy in writing the first of many novels about James Bond (in reality Sidney Reilly) which grace our screens a century onwards.

Sidney Reilly is introduced into my fact/fiction novel of the life of Grand Duke Michael Romanov from 1917 onwards.  He was very active in Russia at that time gaining valuable information for the allies whilst attempting to strangle Bolshevism in the cradle (Winston Churchill quote).  His spying was crucial to the Allies when they invaded Russia at Archangel in 1918 with the intent of joining forces with the White Army to march on Moscow and crush Lenin.  Grand Duke Michael was to become the spearhead of this operation as he was a war hero and loved by the population…in contrast to his brother Tsar Nicholas II.  Michael was in fact `the last tsar` of Russia as Nicholas II had passed on the mantle of monarchy to his brother in March 1917 upon his abdication.

The initial thrust was to bring Russia back into the war with Germany and reopen the Eastern front, thus weakening German western front forces.

Lenin suspected this plot and attempted to assassinate Michael whilst under house arrest in Perm… Siberia.  This stopped the invasion in its tracks and was again weakened by the cessation of the war in November 1918.  The allied politicians and public had no further appetite for war and thus Lenin and the communist cause proliferated in Russia and the rest is history.

However the novel `The Two Lives of Grand Duke Michael` further the exploits of Sidney Reilly where he rescues Michael Romanov at the scene of the (attempted) assassination and brings him back to the UK barley alive and with a complete loss of memory from bullet head wounds he sustained.

He commences a new life under the protection of Cummings at MI6 and is handled by Reilly and another superspy, Olga Bystrovia (her operational undercover name) in the years leading up to his death in 1947.

The story here takes a dramatic twist as Michael falls in love with his handler, Olga…. and they Marry in 1946 and produce a son.  George is now the ligament head of the Russian Royal family and is heir to the Russian throne.

George is brought up in secrecy under MI6 protection and lives a quite life in a coastal seaside town.  His daughter Hannah discovers the coordinates for a vast hoard of Russian Crown Jewels buried on the coastal cliffs by Michael whilst on a military visit to the UK in 1918.  She and her father dig them up and are forced into hiding.

The FSB (ex KGB), and British government attempt to find Hannah and the Jewels and finally after her father is killed, she escapes to India.

The Indian government are working towards arranging a two-way beneficial industrial deal with Putin on the condition that Hannah is returned as tsarina of Russia.

You guessed it… Olga Bystrovia was born in India and raised as a child before emigrating to the UK in 1912.  Her son George married a sensationally beautiful Indian woman when visiting there with his mother in 1972 and produced Hannah as their only child.

Listen to the beautiful and haunting opening and closing title music of the TV series as written by Dimitri Shostakovich for the film `The Gadfly` using the excerpt `Romance. `

One of the most popular English-language novels of the 20th Century is almost unknown in the English-speaking world – a global phenomenon in translation, now neglected in its original form. The Gadfly, by Irish writer Ethel Voynich, was a sensation on the other side of the Iron Curtain – it sold over 5 million copies in 107 editions in the 22 languages spoken in the Soviet Union. The book inspired seven musical adaptations, including an opera by Prokofiev, five theatre adaptations, including an ‘official’ version by George Bernard Shaw, and five film adaptations, one of which featured a famous score by Shostakovich.

Ethel had a liaison with Sidney Reilly before she wrote the novel `The Gadfly` and introduces Reilly as the main Character in rendering her love for him.

Ethel Voynich appears in the book `The Two Lives of Grand Duke Michael. `


Michael Roman.


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