Saturday, 22 December 2007


Earlier this week, BBC1 screened the final episode in series 6 of SPOOKS. This absorbing drama began in 2002, and follows the work of MI5 officers in London. The debut series drew many complaints from viewers who objected to the torture and killing of a junior case officer. As SPOOKS is screened after the 9.00pm 'watershed', scenes of a graphic nature have peppered all 6 seasons, reflecting the often bloody struggle against terrorism. Storylines including Al-Queda terror cells, the sale of blueprints for nuclear weapons, London in peril from flooding and a deadly virus along with other acts of terrorism all ensured that SPOOKS was rarely out of the headlines as the show built and retained a loyal core audience. The likes of Jenny Agutter, Matthew Macfayden, Peter Firth and Keeley Hawes all figured in season 1 and now, 5 years later, we have Rupert Penry-Jones (introduced in the 3rd season), Miranda Raison (debuted in season 4) and Hermione Norris (season 5 onwards) who are currently amongst those raising our hopes and fears. It's particularly good to see that Firth is still at the wicket as Sir Harry Pearce - head of counter-terrorism at MI5. Together with Penry-Jones' Adam Carter, he's the mainstay of this excellent drama and is aided and abetted by a fine cast of actors. Indeed, one of SPOOKS' strongest weapons is that it's blessed by some remarkably good acting, which compels viewers to care deeply about the characters. Of course, the subject matter often draws criticism from those who point out that our daily news contains coverage of terrorist atrocities, items concerning increased nuclear capabilities and vicious fighting between troops from warring nations. This is reality, so why should be require fictional accounts of the same? I'd say that over 6 million viewers are drawn to SPOOKS for a number of reasons. It's fascinating to watch the political intrigue; particularly between MI5 and the government, giving us chance to witness instances of inner turmoil, some of which may not be too wide of the mark with regard to the real-life situations that play behind closed doors in Downing Street. I think this series also leaves us with a greater appreciation of the men and women who work 24/7 to continue the fight against terrorism, and in SPOOKS we can identify with their work and take some comfort in the fact that our country and the world are that much safer because of their efforts. We may not always approve of the methods employed, and some of the storylines are a little too hard to swallow but, overall, it's hard not to go with the bigger picture. The final episode of season 6 is a case in point as 2 MI5 officers are captured and held hostage while their colleagues race against time to foil another terrorist plot. In this episode, the kicker is that senior officers are charged with risking the lives of two colleagues for 'the greater good'. While I don't intend to divulge the ending, I will say that a glass of whisky and a cigarette were the first things I reached for after witnessing the harrowing final frame which brought season 6 to a close with the customary monochrome negative image that compresses into a white line against a darkened screen. Sleep did not come easily on this particular night.

There are already rumours in the press concerning season 7 which may see the death of a prominent member of the cast. SPOOKS has never been averse to taking out key cast members. As in the real world, no-one is safe. Whatever happens, the next instalment can't come quickly enough for me.

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