Spy mastermind

Len Deighton's novels feature on BBC's 'Mastermind'

Deighton Dossier reader Nick Flindall recently informed the blog that he had competed – rather successfully, it appears – on an edition of Mastermind in in 2008, sat in the famous black chair, under the spotlight, waiting for John Humphrys to ask the first question on his special subject. That topic? The Harry Palmer novels.

To read his full article about why he chose this topic and his fascination with Len's novels, and his experiences on the programme, visit the Deighton Dossier blog.

Below is a transcript of the questions - with answers - that Nick answered in 2008. Some of them are pretty challenging - how many would you have got right?

Mastermind: Broadcast on BBC 2, 31 October 2008

Contender: Nicholas Flindall

Special subject: The ‘Harry Palmer’ novels of Len Deighton


  1. In The Ipcress File, what is the name of Harry Palmer’s new assistant whom he first meets at Lederer’s Coffee house in Soho? Jean Tonneson
  2. The Funeral in Berlin is ostensibly arranged in order to bring which defecting Soviet scientist through the Berlin Wall, under the alias Paul Louis Broum? Semitsa
  3. What code name is Palmer given in the operation in which Johnnie Vulkan is code-named ‘King’, in Funeral in Berlin? Kadaver
  4. At which Thames-side pub does Chico lose sight of the man who had been tailing Palmer earlier in Billion Dollar Brain? The Prospect of Whitby
  5. What code name is given to Christian Stakowski, who engineers the disappearance of several eminent British scientists in The Ipcress File? Jay
  6. In Funeral in Berlin who does Palmer use to break into Sam Steele’s flat, where he discovers a stack of books on the subject of enzymes? Austin Butterworth
  7. In Horse Under Water which country’s revolutionary movement, the VNV, wants the money recovered from a sunken U-Boat to finance their activities? Portugal
  8. To which Pacific atoll are Palmer, Jean Tonneson and Dalby taken to witness an American atom bomb test in The Ipcress File? Tokwe
  9. In Billion Dollar Brain under what name does Harry Palmer travel to Helsinki and to America on a false Irish passport? Liam Dempsey
  10. In The Ipcress File which secret telephone exchange within the federal system does Palmer have to call in order to contact his department? Ghost
  11. Which branch of the German Intelligence Service arranges to bring Semitsa out from East Germany in Funeral in Berlin? The Gehlen Bureau
  12. What is contained in the shiny brown sphere the size of a golf ball that’s given by Midwinter to new recruits to his organization in Billion Dollar Brain? American soil
  13. In The Ipcress File, Palmer and Murray arrive too late at which London police station and find Housemartin already dead? Shoreditch
  14. In Horse Under Water, what name is given to the plan for a new espionage network made up of people working in embassies or foreign governments that would feed information back to London? The Strutton Plan
  15. Most chapters of The Ipcress File begin with an extract from a horoscope for which sign of the Zodiac? Aquarias
  16. What do the three “F’s” stand for that feature on the badges worn by the members of Midwinter’s organization? Facts for Freedom

All questions and answers © BBC, 2008


Nick seated in the famous black chair

You passed on only one...

The only question on which Nick passed was number 14, about the plan for a new espionage network based around embassies feeding information back to London, feature in Horse Under Water. The answer? The Strutton Plan