The King's Commissar, by Duncan Kyle

Duncan Kyle - The King's Commissar

BBC Radio 4: Saturday Night Theatre

Broadcast: Saturday 26th November 1988 @ 7:45 p.m.

In 1918, on secret orders from King George V, a British officer was sent on a daring rescue attempt of the imperial Russian family. The trade off was a vast shipment of royal gold intended for the purchase of Bolshevik arms. The whereabouts of that royal treasure is still an enigma...

In 1983, Laurence Pilgrim has become the new Senior Partner of Hillyard & Cleef, the respectable merchant bank in the city of London. As he goes over the books he finds that every year since 1920, Hillyard & Cleef has place £50,000 into a numbered Swiss Bank Account. Laurence is determined to find out why so he sends Jack Graves, one of his assistants, to Zürich to find information on where this money is going. Once there, Jack is welcomed by the Bank representative and told that they were given instruction over 60 years ago that if anyone from Hillyard & Cleef were to enquire about the deposits (of which he is the first), they were to be given a package that is to be opened only by the Senior Partner of Hillyard & Cleef.

Back in London, Laurence opens the package and begins reading a document that begins to explain why the payments are being made. It starts off with the first part of a narrative. The first part also contains instructions on how to find the second; the second will give instructions on finding the third and so on. There are seven parts altogether. The document also states a warning: if he does not pick up parts one to six within three months, the seventh part will be directed into other hands. Should this happen, the consequences will be catastophic.

The narrative begins on the night of Saturday 30th March 1918...

Dramatised by Neville Teller from Duncan Kyle's 1983 novel, "The King's Commissar".

With Richard Vernon [Sir Horace Mallory, Former Senior Partner of Hillyard & Cleef], Dominic Rickhards [Lieutenant-Commander Henry George Dickerston, R.N.], Blain Fairman [Laurence Pilgrim, Senior Partner of Hillyard & Cleef], Alan Polonsky [Jack Graves of Hillyard & Cleef], Richard Tate [Sverdlov], Michael Deacon [Sir Basil Zaharoff], Nicholas Courtney [King George V], John Moffat [Tsar Nicholas II], Peter Craze [Vladimir Lenin], Philip Sully [Steve Smart], Alice Arnold [Gloria Smart, Steve's Wife], Eva Stuart [Madame Bronar], Ian McKee [Fergus Huntley of Hillyard & Cleef], Steve Hodson [Russky aka Henri Bronar], Simon Cuff [Petroff, Leader of the Railway Workers], Marcia King [Miss Frobisher of Hillyard & Cleef], Christopher Scott [Alexander Beloborodov, Chairman of the Ural Soviet], Ken Cumberlidge [Soviet Commissar for War], and Norman Bird [Mr. Griffin].

Other parts played by members of the cast.

Directed by Matthew Walters

90 minutes


Duncan Kyle was the working name of UK thriller writer John Franklin Broxholme (b. 1930), who published fifteen novels in a little over twenty years (1971-1993). Reminiscent of the work of Desmond Bagley, Kyle's books typically involve a tough, resourceful individual who unexpectedly becomes involved in danger and intrigue in an exotic setting. "A Cage of Ice", for example, involves a London physician who accompanies a hand-picked team of adventurers on a snowmobile journey across the Arctic to rescue a defecting Soviet scientist. "Green River High" follows another group of adventurers into the jungles of Borneo in search of a plane that crashed there during World War II.

Kyle's novels are, like those of Bagley and Alistair MacLean, stronger on plot and setting than on characterisation. They are invariably well-crafted, however, and two -- "The King's Commissar" and "The Dancing Men" -- are classics of the historical fiction and historical detective story genres, respectively.


A Cage of Ice (1970)
Flight Into Fear (1972)
The Suvarov Adventure (1973)
Terror's Cradle (1974)
A Raft of Swords (1975)
In Deep (1976)
Whiteout (1976)
Black Camelot (1978)
Green River High (1979)
Stalking Point (1981)
The King's Commissar (1983)
The Semonov Impulse (1983)
The Dancing Men (1985)
The Honey Ant (1988)
Exit (1993)


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