139. Armour

Tapehead no 139

From East Germany to Preston and Ibiza, it’s a war zone out there – a war zone called love.

Secret History’s Spying for Love details the way that the head of East German intelligence a man not surprisingly called Wolf, mobilised ‘Romeo agents’ to entrap the hearts of enemy ‘Juliets’ – secretaries, mostly working in strategically sensitive government offices.

When love bloomed, the Juliets were blackmailed into spying for the East Germans.

When we first meet Wolf, who was the head of the spy service for 40 years, he is most noteworthy not only for the way he is stroking a large black pussy (a la James Bond baddie) but also for his striking resemblance to Terence Conran.

One of the victims of his policy, poor Dagmar Schroeter is noteworthy not only for her resemblance to Jackie Corkhill but because she has led a life of strife that somehow surpasses even Jackie’s.

She was targeted by Romeo agent Herbert Richter. 

“He really understood how to awaken feelings in me. I learned to love again,” sobs Dagmar/Jackie, her face wet as ever with mascara tears.

Four months into the affair, she was told to change her life. Her daughter was packed off to boarding school, she was trained in codes and photographer, and moved to Bonn to begin spying. 

“The bill for all these things,” she sobs, “was paid in the currency of love. Every time I was really down and thought I couldn’t go on,” she cries, “they would arrange for me to see Herbert again, and he then worked on me by day and especially at night.”

Schweinhund !

Just as her life seemed ruined, strangely, Herbert agreed to marry her.

“The despair and bitterness surrounding this wedding are still with me today.”

It was a fake ceremony, completely performed by secret agents.

In a final bid to top Jackie for tragedy, she was arrested, served six years in prison, was disowned by her family and lost custody of her daughter.

Of course, even now, as she talks about Herbert, there is still a glimmer in those twinkling eyes, the same glimmer Jackie has when she talks about Herbert, there is still a glimmer in those twinkling eyes, the same glimmer Jackie has when she talks about Our Jimmy. 

All she wants to know is whether he really ever loved her at all.

Her logic here is that Herbert predicted that if she was arrested they would tell her he never loved her. Find out what he tells her next.

All this pain means nothing to Wolf who argues it was all part of the Cold War.

“It was a method of infiltration,” he shrugs, which is certainly one way of putting it.

Almost as improbable a way of finding love is the idea of going to Ibiza on a Club 18-30 holiday, as one girl on Ibiza Uncovered does.

Apart from the picnics for leather queens, the foam parties and the orgies at Manumission, it’s a mystery to Tapehead why anyone goes.

Listening to Club 18-30 reps like Alice and street PRs outside bars like Kes is enough to send anyone fleeing. These girls make Janet Street-Porter sound like Whispering Bob Harris.

The Territorial Army may be a fake army, but in the last series of Preston Front, the war against the male heart was raging.

Rarely has a British drama series so mercilessly pinpointed the anxieties and inadequacies of men when faced with the flow that is modern women. It was horribly painful to behold. Hodge, Eric, Spock, Lloydy, Diesel, and Polston went in over the top and boy did they get a pasting.

Sad to say, the BBC has failed to learn the lesson of this Life and is not repeating the last series, so the first episode contents itself with filling everyone in and concentrating on the impossibly handsome Hodge whose heartbreak revolves around this secret love-child, the impossibly cute Kirsty.

Hodge end up taking his driving test in Eric’s noodle-delivery van jeopardising the emergency stop by dint of the unstable bowl of promotional noodles on the roof.

Lloydy meanwhile is organising the TA’s buried-treasure hunt, which involves an anti-personnel-mine detector and 200 sherbet dib-dabs. Sadly, he forgets to wrap them in tin foil first.

“What ? You think they have a setting for sherbet ?” shouts Diesel.

What we have here is less a minefield, more of a dib-dab plantation.

As Lloydy would, and will, say: “It makes me laff !”


Secret History: Mon, 9pm, C4

Ibiza Uncovered: 1 Sun, 10pm, Sky 1

Preston Front: Mon, 10pm, BBC1