20 SEPTEMBER 1963, Page 8

Early Burgess

I had forgotten that sonic account of Guy Burgess appears in Paul Bloomfield's BBC (1941). Burgess, as a BBC trainee, appears here as a character called de Montmorency: a comic character with an air of patronage towards his instructors and a habit, which even his superiors respected, of going to sleep during lectures. Yet at the end of the course Burgess was given a re- port so flattering that he blushed. He had begun his habit of mysterious disappearances even then. Twice at least he absented himself without leave from the Talks Department. On the first occa- sion he went for some time to Monte Carlo; on the second, so his dossier is said to record, he went off to see Winston Churchill to represent to him that the rising generation in Britain needed a leader.