It’s coming: Spooks Series 8

spooks series 8

The brand new 8th series premiers this Wednesday at 9pm GMT on BBC1. It’s fair to say that Spooks is one of my most favourite TV series and certainly one of the very best things that the BBC airs each year.

From the BBC press office:

Award-winning drama Spooks is back in production, for a fantastic, high octane eighth series and is set to return to BBC One this autumn.

Following the dramatic climax of series seven, viewers will be on the edge of their seats, eagerly waiting to find out which of the country’s finest spies will return to their screens in the Kudos Film and Television production.

The critically-acclaimed last series saw the appointment of ice cold Ros Myers (Hermione Norris) to Head of Section D and the release of Lucas North (Richard Armitage) after eight years in a Russian prison.

Harry Pearce’s (Peter Firth) elite team of spies were forced to quickly adapt to their new dynamic following the death of Adam Carter, but there was no time to mourn their colleague as the Russians descended on London and a mole within Section D was discovered.

In the explosive finale of the series, old school spy Connie James was exposed as the Russian’s insider and, in a race to save London from a nuclear explosion, she paid the ultimate price for betrayal, sacrificing herself to save Ros and Lucas.

Although London was saved from disaster, it’s not over for Section D as Harry is missing in action following a meet with the Russian intelligence services, the FSB, and was last seen being bundled into the boot of a car…

Source: BBC

Preview from Radio Times:

British television isn’t much cop at straight-down-the-line thrillers; writers and producers get bogged down in characterisation and delivering right-on messages and lose sight of the fact that thrillers should be – yes – thrilling. Which brings us to Spooks. Those in the know are sniffy about it, claiming it’s nothing like MI5. I should hope not; it’s torrid, preposterous and frequently ridiculously overheated. And I love it to pieces, because Spooks is a rarity: a genuinely exciting, madly engaging drama that grabs you by the wrists and simply won’t let go. At the end of the last series it looked as if the game was up for spy boss Harry (the splendid Peter Firth) after he was kidnapped by a rogue band of utter rotters. As we start a new series, things still look bleak – and they get bleaker still when a familiar face arrives back on the Grid and lives are in danger. I’m being deliberately coy here, but there are simply too many surprises. It’s best just to buckle up and prepare yourselves for a trademark dizzying Spooks funfair ride as stern people in black stride down corridors and no one trusts anyone else. Part two is on BBC3 at 9:00pm on Friday.

Source: Radio Times


Review: Spooks (Episode 4 – Series 7 – BBC)

A decent episode with a lot of twists and turns.

A senior member of Al-Qaeda, Muhammed Khordad, comes to London, asking to negotiate with MI5. He reveals that an extremist wing of al-Qaeda will be setting off a bomb that afternoon in London. He will tell MI5 where it is in exchange for the public pardoning of two al-Qaeda prisoners. The Home Secretary reluctantly agrees, and a statement is broadcast. But Khordad is not happy with it and refuses to reveal the whereabouts of the bomb, leaving Harry’s team to find it before it explodes. Meanwhile the Russians, in a test of loyalty, have ordered Lucas to ensure that the bomb explodes. Source: BBC

The episode opens with Lucas intercepting a ‘Level 1 asset’ (extensive Al-Queda connections) at a London mainline station. Ros is communicating with Lucas via phone. He intercepts the asset but is in turn intercepted by an FSB officer who stabs the Middle Eastern contact who then dies. In his dying breath he says the name Muhammed Khordad and reveals a sim card. It transpires that Khordad is the 3rd ‘most wanted’ by the CIA. We learn that he tortured 3 Mi6 officers in Pakistan.

Connie asks Jo how it’s gone with the councillor but Jo implies she hasn’t used their services yet, though she’s obviously still traumatised.

They make contact with Khordad via the sim card who says he will be in touch by text message. He gets back in touch, saying he wants to meet them.

Harry meets the Home Secretary who won’t sanction a meeting with Khordad publicly but grudgingly agrees via a system of total deniability that Mi5 can meet Al-Queda’s number 3.

Khordad won’t meet without a human rights lawyer present so Mi5 brings one in and the lawyer, Harry and Ros head to a secret meeting with Khordad.

At the meeting, they’re using high tech gadgets including a radioactive ring that emits nano radiation that can be transferred when you shake hands – so they can keep tabs on Khordad.

Jo is jostled by someone in the street who she glimpses briefly. She has flashbacks to her experience at the hands of torturers and thinks it may be one of them.

The meeting with Khordad takes place. Khordad reveals that Al-Queda will let off a bomb in central London at 3pm. He will only give more information about the bomb if the Home Secretary delivers a statement condemning the incarceration by the Americans of two recently released suspects from Guantanamo Bay.

Harry and Ros meet with the Home Secretary. He refuses to allow the release as it will damage relations with the Americans who had incarcerated the British Muslims.

Qualtrough (from last episode, he’s an ex-Mi5 officer who is now retired) calls Harry, saying he thinks he knows where the leak about Sugar Horse is coming from.

Khordad is now on the move again and the imprint of the radioactive ring means Mi5 can track his movements. Jo traces him but he double-bluffs as he knew he was being followed.

Harry meets with Qualtrough and tells him that Dalby wasn’t the leak on Sugar Horse. He also says that Hugo Prince (the other suspected leak) was not the leak, and that Connie and Hugo were having an affair. The implication is that Connie may be the weakest link.

The Home Secretary is seen on television pardoning the ‘Guantanamo two’ who had been imprisoned by the Americans. Khordad calls Harry to say that the ‘pardon’ was not enough and therefore the bomb will go off.

They decide to use CO19 to pick Khordad up as he leaves the British Museum.

Khordad is bundled into the back of a blacked out car. They assume it’s CO19 but they’re still 90 seconds away so it can’t be them.

Lucas goes to his ex-wife Elisabeta who now works for FSB, to get more information on the bomb in case the Russians are involved. She reveals that the Russians have contacted the bombers and will bring it forward by 10 minutes to test Lucas. If he is seen to feed this information back to Mi5, the FSB (what was the KGB) will know he is a traitor to their cause (i.e. a double-double-agent) and they will likely kill both him and Elisabeta, his former wife who is now a London-based FSB spy.

Mi5 finally ascertain where Khordad is and who has taken him. It’s the CIA. Harry calls Laurie, the CIA bureau chief, who denies knowledge. Harry and Ros make there way to the unmarked CIA ‘substation’. Laurie refuses to release him as the Americans have wanted him for a long time. Harry threatens to go to the press and unveil American duplicity in the bombing. She caves in, Harry meets with Khordad and takes him out of the CIA building – to the fury of the Americans.

Khordad finally gives up the location of the bomb.

The decision is made to let the bomb go off at the venue but they will fake it – detonating the bomb and evacuating the guests via a back door so it looks like the explosion is genuine. Ros and Lucas rush to the venue (a wine bar on Victoria Street, popular with MPs) to defuse the bomb. “What are you best at – the real thing or faking it??” Lucas says to Ros. James Bond style, they detonate the bomb with moments to spare by putting it in the microwave.

The fake bomb goes off but nobody is hurt. The Russians are fooled into thinking Lucas is still loyal.

Laurie threatens Harry saying the Americans are not pleased and that there will be repercussions. Harry implies that London no longer plays to Washington’s tune.

Harry and Khordad meet in sectret, agreeing they can ‘do business’. Khordad passes him top secret Iranian missile information. There are Iranian missiles capable of reaching UK targets. Khordad does this because he wants justice in Palestine and the Americans out of the Middle East. So the number 3 in Al-Queda is working with Mi5 to eliminate the more dangerous and volatile lower levels within Al-Queda.

The final scene is Harry drinking whiskey with Connie (he’s trying to work out if she’s the mole), they’re then interrupted by Ros asking them to come and look at the television. Khordad is in a plane crash in the Ural mountains (where the Americans have an airbase) – the implication being they have shot him down.

A complex episode, my understanding not being helped by an ex-colleague who called me whilst I was watching! But it was a good and interesting storyline (incredibly current in light of recent events, as the new president at the Whitehouse was alluded to).

UK residents can watch again on iPlayer.

More about CO19.

More about Mi5.

Pictures of Richard Armitage taken from Spooks series 7.

Reviews of Spooks Series 7

Review: Spooks (Episode 3 – Series 7 – BBC)

For some reason I enjoyed this more than last week’s episode. It still had lots of twists and turns – but it was somehow more satisfying. I did find the inner-city accent of the Jihadi to be quite fake, but I can live with that.

The main plot line is the discovery of British based Al-Qaeda bomb plots, the aim of which is to maximise civilian casualties. Ben is working undercover in the cell that is tasked with detonating the bomb. Initially the expectation is that it’s a dummy run but it soon transpires this is the real thing.

The plot is complicated because Marlin, a Pakistani intelligence agent, is giving the tip-off. Past series dictate that those who give tip-offs can’t usually be trusted.

The even more complex plot line occurs when Lucas has flashbacks to his torture at the hands of Russian FSB captors. He was subjected to water boarding (note that he endured this in real life too) and one of his torturers had asked him about ‘Surgarhorse’, a keyword he isn’t familiar with. After having a flashback he confronts Harry and asks him if he knows what it is. Harry denies any knowledge.

Next thing we know, Harry is in the suburbs in an old book store where his old mentor Bernard Qualtrough works. He tells Bernard he needs him to work on a covert operation because, we infer, ‘Sugarhorse’ has some connection with an Mi5 top secret operation and potentially a mole at the highest echelons of the service – probably in connection with one of Harry’s superiors, called Dalby.

Back on the central plot line, the dummy run turns into the real thing and there are four bombs to be neutralised. Ros does a sterling job as Head of Section D, especially in Harry’s absence as they can’t get hold of him. Connie urges the shut-down of the mobile network but Ros resists. To cut a long story short, they manage to neutralise three of the bombs. The other (real) terrorist who Ben was a faux-accomplice to ended up getting shot.

Unfortunately, the fourth bomb does detonate and Jo (pictured – already traumatised from her ordeal with Adam Carter (RIP) at the hands of torturers) – is at the centre of this one. Two CO19 officers are killed in the explosion but Jo had managed to clear the area of civilians. She herself is again, deeply traumatised, as she is caught in the blast itself – though survives.

By the end they realise that Marlin had set them up and that the handler they’d been chasing had not been the Mr Big. Marlin phones through to Lucas and asks to meet. They do. Marlin acknowledges to Lucas that he is probably a dead man in Mi5’s eyes now. However, he also tells Lucas that he himself is NOT the Mr Big, but yet another ‘Russian doll’. He says he had to organise to oversee the bombing as his superiors had got to his family and this was the only way to protect them. He draws a gun… and shoots himself through the neck.

Ben is deep undercover and discovers the terrorists are planning a bombing campaign in London. He accompanies them on a dry run but soon discovers that this is no practice and that he is minutes away from innocent members of the public getting killed. Ros and the team face a desperate race against time to prevent the terrorists’ bombs going off but, with four bombs set to detonate, it’s an almost impossible task. Jo will stop at nothing to save London from devastation, landing herself at the centre of a catastrophic situation.

This was episode 3/7 and the series is continuing to deliver. Highly recommended.

Watch again on BBC iPlayer (UK residents only) by clicking here.

Reviews of Spooks Series 7

Review: Spooks (Episode 1 – Series 7 – BBC)

An enjoyable seat-of-your-pants first episode as series 7 premiered on BBC1 last night. Look away if you don’t want to see spoilers contained within this entry.

It started with a flashback to series 6, episode 10. You may recall that Adam and Jo had been captured and their death was imminent. Jo had begged Adam to kill her as she knew she would be tortured.

So it started where the last series left off. It turns out Jo feigned her own death and she did not in fact die as they were liberated by Special Forces. So they got out alive. However, Jo was was heavily traumatized afterwards and doesn’t restart work.

The main plot line in episode 1 of series 7 is focused on Russia. Ros is in Moscow (codename: RANGEFINDER). With things hotting up in London, she is recalled but refuses to bail out as she is moments away from picking up something she’s worked 6 months on getting (she’s acquiring Russian secrets of course).

The main plot line is a British army private who had been serving in Afghanistan. His face had been on a BBC news broadcast saying he was looking forward to coming home, etc. Anyway, on leaving the pub with his friends, he was captured by Al-Qaeda operatives. They show a video of him on youtube saying they will behead him if HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) does not cancel the Remembrance Sunday events, at the cenotaph, etc.

So the thrust of this episode was them desperately trying to find this captured squaddie who is somewhere in London. Ros had brought an encrypted piece of data back from Moscow and they finally manage to unencrypt it. It links them to Al-Qaeda operatives in London who will link them to the hostage takers.

Oh, I almost completely forgot. The BIG new plot line is Lucas, an Mi5 agent who has been released by Moscow in a ‘tit for tat’ exchange. He’d been languishing in a Moscow prison for 8 years. He comes back to Thames House and is warmly received by those colleague that remember him – Harry, Malcolm, Connie, etc. He’s looked on warily by Adam who had not worked with him, however.

Anyway, they manage to free the captured squaddie, only to realise that this was a diversion for the main Al-Qaeda atrocity which is a planned bombing of a remembrance Sunday service in a part of East London. Adam, Lucas and Ben race to the scene. Ros (who hasn’t seen Adam since her own ‘death’ (staged by Mi5 to protect her from the Americans)) sees Adam who has intercepted the car bomb. They greet very briefly. That she loved him cannot really be in doubt.

Ben and Lucas are chasing the Russian agent (codename: TRANQUILITY) who had driven the car to the site. They valiantly try to get her to give them the code and Lucas fights her to the ground but she crushes a cyanide tablet in her mouth (starts foaming at the mouth) and dies instantly.

Adam has jumped into the car and is racing out of the area before the bomb goes off. Martin back at HQ has identified a derelict part of London with a large enough exclusion zone for the bomb to go off. They’re out of time, seconds until the bomb is due to go off!

Adam manages to get the car into the exclusion zone and just as he opens the door to leap out… the enormous car bomb detonates and he is killed in a gigantic fireball.

All the agents are in a state of profound shock. Ros will probably never get over it. The only positive is that Jo decides to return to work as a way of honouring his life (they had worked very closely through series 6 and he was her mentor).

Harry and Ros swear on their lives that they will get their revenge on the Russian bureau chief in London (I forget his name) who knew about the imminent attack, who was introduced as a new character earlier in the episode.

All in all – great drama and very much up to the usual quality we would expect from Spooks. Rather shocking to see that Adam has been killed off, but they kill someone off every series so it can’t come as too much of a surprise. Lucas looks to be a very interesting character. Less cocky than Adam. We assume he is partially ‘broken’ after 8 years in a Russian prison and his naked torso revealed some very interesting tattoos he got during this time. The Radio Times attempts to decipher them.

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If you are a UK resident you can see episode 1 / series 7 online using BBC iPlayer.

Episode 2 is on tonight on BBC1 at 9pm (preview on Radio Times).
Reviews of Spooks Series 7

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