9

In Endeavour S05E05, Bagshot and Morse discuss some spying/agents stuff between Britain and Russia during the Cold War (1960s):

Bagshot: There have been rumours for some time that HMG (Her Majesty's Government) has been penetrated to Cabinet level. Maybe even beyond.

Morse: No. I don't believe that.

Bagshot: You may not, but our friends on the Continent seriously think so. Why do you think de Gaulle is so determined to keep us out of the European Community? Buy British, get Boris.

Who is this "Boris" here and what does "Buy British, get Boris" mean in this context?

  • 41
    My first thought when I read the title was Boris Johnson. – F1Krazy Jun 30 at 13:29
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    @F1Krazy Well, now I'm afraid of buying Terry's Chocolate Orange. – SZCZERZO KŁY Jun 30 at 14:30
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    Whereas I thought of Boris the Bullet Dodger... – johnDanger Jul 1 at 0:27
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    ... they were determined to get into the European Community? How the tables have turned. – user253751 Jul 1 at 12:33
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    @Luaan The EU is its legal successor, so the joke is perfectly valid in my eyes – smcs Jul 2 at 9:00
26

Boris has commonly been used to mean "Russian/Communist" in English / US slang, at least during the Cold War period.

Thus the phrase "Buy British, get Boris" implies that remaining British centered was playing into the hands of the communist-infiltrated UK government.

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  • similar as Uncle Joe? – Rahn Jun 30 at 13:17
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    Yep, Uncle Joe referred to Stalin specifically – Paulie_D Jun 30 at 13:17
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    "Buy British" is also a well-used slogan with many google hits for posters in the 1960s. – Yorik Jun 30 at 21:09
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    @Rahn: It’s a bit different from “Uncle Joe”. As Paule_D says, that refers to Josef Stalin specifically. The name Boris, by contrast, isn’t associated with any single individual, but with Russians in general. Klaus has been used to refer to a generic German, in a similary often-slightly-derogatory way. – Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine Jul 1 at 17:04
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    @DarrelHoffman I don't think it's with respect to a specific example - it's just a generic Russian name. Similarly Ivan is another generic name - hence the 'Crazy Ivan' in the Hunt for Red October is a Russian submarine doing a crazy manoeuvre. – user1908704 Jul 1 at 22:29
5

Many common names have been used as derogatory terms for specific ethnicities, nationalities, countries, personality types, etc. They may originate from a predominantly used actual name. Or, they could originate from a famous or dominant person from the indicated culture. Many of these are used regionally. Some of these are so widespread that they are almost universal. Most must be taken in context to make sense. For the most part, their usage would be considered rude at best. Boris is such a derogatory term meant to indicate communist Russia.

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