Spooks: Goodbye

(Spoiler alert: Do not read further if you have yet to watch the final episode)

“HARRY Pearce…”

The poignant last ever episode of Spooks has just finished.

There will be no more.

Nicola Walker summed up my feelings in an interview this week when she said:

“The storyline for this last series is the right ending for the show.

“I don’t know if it’s going to please everybody but it’s a very clever and grown up end point.”

I know some wanted a happy ending for Harry and Ruth.

In a house by the seaside.

But as Nicola said herself, that – sadly – wouldn’t have been fitting for Spooks.

Ruth’s last words:

“Harry. We were never meant to have those things.”

In the end, she sacrificed her own life to save Harry’s.

There can be no greater love.

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I’d like to say thank you to every single person who has read my Spooks’ blogs and coverage over the years.

Spooks fans are among the best people I’ve ever encountered online.

My thanks also to the casts, writers and production teams.

In the spirit of MI5, they never received an on screen credit.

But all played an invaluable role in making Spooks what it was.

With an extra special mention for Peter Firth and Nicola’s Walker’s superb performances in the finale.

I know we’re all sad this wonderful drama is now at an end.

But we’ll always have the box sets.

And should you ever find yourself anywhere near Thames House, keep a corner of your eye out for Sir Harry Pearce.

He’ll be there somewhere, ploughing his lonely furrow.

For as Calum reminded us when Harry returned to his desk tonight:

“Bad people want to kill us.”

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My invite to the launch of Spooks series one.

BAFTA, Piccadilly, London W1. 6pm for 7pm Wednesday April 24 2002:

An invitation to view the first two episodes of new BBC spy drama Spooks and interview the cast.

I arrived earlier in the afternoon to speak to cast members before the screening, as well as some afterwards.

Including Keeley Hawes and Lisa Faulkner giggling over a few glasses of white wine.

Spooks series one production release.

Peter Firth’s Harry Pearce was there from the start.

But he wasn’t the main focus of the media’s attention.

There was, of course, a good reason for showing us the first two episodes in advance, rather than just the first.

We were sworn to secrecy about Lisa Faulkner’s fate.

One of many secrets Spooks asked us to keep over 10 series.

Peter Firth / Harry Pearce series one press information

I was lucky enough to interview the cast every year and go on set for series after series.

So as we say goodbye to Spooks, I thought it might be of interest to some to post my series one Manchester Evening News’ coverage online.

Plus my TV pick of the day for Monday May 13 2002.

Series one cast information.

Much has changed on and off screen since then.

As you’ll get a flavour of below:

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The Grid: Class of 2002.

Published Wednesday May 1 2002:

STEAM swirls across a deserted station platform as a young girl shouts out: “Daddy, oh my daddy.”

It’s hard to believe that Jenny Agutter – forever remembered as Roberta in The Railway Children – is 50 in December. “I’m staggered too,” she laughs. “I’ll be out of the country.”

She returned to Britain from Los Angeles twelve years ago to marry Swiss hotelier Johan Tham. The couple have one son – Jonathan, now 11.

“When I turned 40 I had so many new things in my life. I’d given birth at 38, married very late, come back to England and there was new work. And someone called me up and said: ‘So what’s it like to be middle-aged?’

“The fact is, middle age moves on and, fortunately, I look round at my girlfriends and we all look all right, actually. It’s okay, it’s not so bad. I don’t feel any different from when I was thirty. I just don’t leave mirrors around.”

Reflecting with Jenny on a sunny spring evening, she has no need to worry about her looks, or her latest TV role as senior MI5 case officer Tessa Phillips in a new BBC1 series called Spooks.

“I wouldn’t make a good spy because I can’t keep a secret. I’d be excited about it and want to tell people what I was doing. On the whole I go beetroot red when I lie.”

Due on screen later this month, the writers and cast of Spooks were advised by ex-MI5 officers. “The work they do against terrorist organisations has, of course, been in the forefront recently,” she explains. “They’re not going to give a lot away, but I did get the sense that what they come across is shocking.

“There are similarities with acting. I did meet people who were ex-MI5 and KGB and, clearly, they are performers. A big part of being a spy is being able to take parts and play them fully. I couldn’t tell whether they were telling the truth or not. And as an actor, you conceal some part of yourself as well to become lots of different people.”

Have Her Majesty’s Secret Service seen the completed series yet? “Oh yes,” she smiles. “I’m sure it’s been seen – but we won’t know.”

After her early roles, including the Aussie outback film Walkabout, Jenny was just 21 when she went to Hollywood, landing a role in the movie Logan’s Run within a matter of weeks.

“I enjoyed living there and made some very good friends. But when I met my husband, there was no way he was going to live over there. It was sunny and I loved making movies. I couldn’t see myself ending up at the Golden Crest retirement centre, though. I felt very comfortable about coming back.

“In America success is equated with the amount of money the last film made. I remember a friend – who was an extremely well-educated man in the States – saying to another friend of mine from the Royal Shakespeare Company: ‘Don’t you wish you were more successful?’

“And I thought: ‘This person never stops working and they’re playing all these extraordinary roles.’ But what he meant was: ‘Don’t you wish you made more money?’”

Incredibly, it’s 32 years since that steam first misted up more than the station platform for Roberta’s emotional reunion with her daddy. Last year Jenny came full circle as she took on the role of “Bobbie’s” mother in a new ITV1 adaptation.

“It’s funny,” she smiles. “People always ask if I went to America to escape The Railway Children. But I only became aware of the huge affection for it when I came back.

“People treasure it because it’s so innocent and Bobby reminds them of their lost youth…which is pretty perverse, when you consider I’m going to be 50 this year!”

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Published in Sunday TV Supplement May 5:

FORMER Holby City star Lisa Faulkner failed to shake or stir when she tried to become a Bond girl.

“I did the worst audition of my life,” confesses Lisa, who had dreams of joining Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry in the new 007 film Die Another Day.

She explains: “I was really excited to be going for a Bond film and I went in trying to look all ‘hot’ and confident. But I just went to bits and screwed it up.

“I’m not sure who got the part in the end – I think it was someone unknown. I was gutted.”

But there was some consolation for the 30-year-old actress, who played Dr Victoria Merrick in Holby City before spending time out in America.

Lisa guest stars as frustrated MI5 office clerk Helen Flynn in BBC1’s new spy drama series Spooks, on screen later this month.

“She so desperately wants to be a spy and then, finally, gets to go undercover. It’s one of the most exciting roles I’ve had to do for a long time.”

Although you’ll have to wait to find out her fate, Lisa reckons she’d do a pretty good job if a career change ever came her way.

“I would like to think I’d be a fantastic spy in real life – but I think all my friends would disagree with me, because they say they know exactly when I’m lying.

“If I was going undercover, then I’d always want to have a beret, dark glasses, a wig and long raincoat…like a gorgeous Russian spy.”

During her Brookside days, Lisa dated fellow soap actor Sean Maguire. Towards the end of her long Holby shift, she went out with South Park creator Trey Parker – part of the reason for her move to America. Sadly, it ended in tears. “It was real heartbreak. Never go out with a genius.”

Then, last summer, she hooked up with Trainspotting actor Jonny Lee Miller, but kept the relationship under wraps. “Eventually we held hands at one of Sadie Frost’s parties and, bang, it was all over the press the next day.”

A few weeks ago Jonny, 29, proposed and a tearful Lisa accepted. The couple hope to marry some time next summer. “I would love a fairy tale wedding,” she says.

Former Holby City pals Angela Griffin – currently starring in Manchester’s Cutting It – and Oldham-born Nicola Stephenson were among the first to congratulate her. The three hope to work together again in future. “We see each other every day still, so it’s not a problem.”

The trio – labelled “the three witches” – won a reputation as party animals. “We didn’t go out that often,” protests Lisa, “but if we did we got photographed every time. It was a nightmare waking up and seeing pictures of yourself drunk in the back of a cab.”

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Published Monday May 13 2002:

THE naked truth was supposed to be for your eyes only.

But actor Matthew Macfadyen knows nothing is that simple when you’re employed on Her Majesty’s secret service.

Spooks (BBC1, 9pm tonight) is a new drama series about the men and women of MI5. Matthew plays Tom Quinn, one of their brightest officers.

Filming for the sixth and final episode – to be screened next month – involved The Way We Live Now star stripping off in a field along with Lorcan Cranitch, who plays the leader of an Irish terrorist group.

“That’s what they do,” explains Matthew. “To check there are no bugs located on our persons, you have to take everything off.

“And what would really happen is that they would leave everything off for the entire time they were together. Thankfully we didn’t have to do that. But it was very cold, so we weren’t at our best.”

The location was a field in Berkshire which was supposed to be deserted. Then cast and crew noticed several people with a possible view to a thrill. “We were by this lake and there were rowers going back and forth, so we had to stop every five seconds!”

Tonight’s first story begins with a car bomb which kills a female doctor and fatally injures her daughter as they set off on the school run. Soon MI5 begin looking at the possibility of a pro-life terrorist campaign.

There’s plenty of action in a glossy series with a cast including Keeley Hawes, Jenny Agutter, Lisa Faulkner, David Oyelowo and Peter Firth. Later guest stars include Hugh Laurie, Debra Stephenson and Tim Pigott-Smith.

Tom’s life is complicated when he falls for restaurant owner Ellie, who only knows him by his alias Matthew Archer. She has to be fully checked out by MI5 before he can tell her the truth about who he is.

Tom is eventually forced to reveal his real identity to Ellie when he is wounded. “I get battered a lot all the way through. There were lots of bruises,” he smiles.

Matthew met real life ex-KGB, CIA and MI5 officers as part of his research for the role.

Former CIA man Mike Baker, who acted as a consultant on the series, revealed that for the first six months that he dated his wife, she thought he was someone else entirely.

“There’s the added complication that your job could put your loved ones at risk,” says Macfadyen. “It must be a complete nightmare.

“I also met a couple of people from the SAS. They were very still, very unruffled and very unflappable. There’s something in the eyes which is a little bit daunting, really – but not aggressive at all.”

“I certainly wouldn’t want to be a spy,” adds Matthew, who also starred in Warriors and Perfect Strangers. “I couldn’t live that lie 24 hours a day.”

But how would he feel if film producers approached him about filling 007’s shoes? “I’d have a little giggle. I don’t have any burning desire to play James Bond. But I suppose you’d never have to buy a car again.”

Although devised and largely written before the terrorist attacks on America, the Spooks team realised their drama had an extra resonance when filming began last November.

Yet Matthew reveals not everyone saw the potential of the series. “It was turned down by another channel and thought not pertinent enough before September 11…which is odd, because it’s always relevant, isn’t it?”

Executive producer Stephen Garrett says things are often not what they seem. A Spooks researcher doing some initial groundwork discovered that, unknown to him, both his aunt and his father has been employed by MI5.

“It changes the way you look at the world,” adds Stephen. “Anyone you know or come across in daily life could be an agent or a spy. If you think about it, do any of us know what all our friends and family actually do for a living?”

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Published Monday May 27 2002:

KEELEY Hawes was engaged on a very special mission while filming the new MI5 drama Spooks.

“I had four days off, so I got married,” laughs the actress, who plays secret agent Zoe Reynolds. “We went on honeymoon to Amsterdam for a few days and then I went back to work.”

London cabby’s daughter Keeley had scheduled the break to get hitched to partner Spencer. The couple have one son, Myles, who is almost two. “I mean, how long do you need? It only takes half an hour to get married.”

Rising MI5 officer Zoe is at the centre of the action in tonight’s episode. Working undercover, she becomes trapped when armed Kurdish rebels lay siege to the Turkish Embassy (BBC1, 9pm).

Keeley – last seen co-starring with Salford’s Chris Eccleston in ITV1’s Othello – admits she’d be a hopeless spy in real life. “It’s that thing of not being able to tell anybody what you do. One glass of wine in the pub and I’d have to tell someone. How could you not?

“A spy has to be brilliant at improvising and picking up on other people’s behaviour. But unlike acting, your life depends on it. I’m sure some MI5 officers become compulsive liars.”

Spooks has been a big hit and a second series is certain, even if over 100 viewers called in to complain about last week’s episode where young office clerk Helen (Lisa Faulkner) was murdered. They saw her hand being plunged into a deep fat fryer, before her head was forced into a vat of boiling oil.

The BBC insisted the violence was implied, rather than shown, and a warning was broadcast before the post-watershed drama, better known for its glossy look and slick scripts.

Keeley in the later 2004 series.

David Oyelowo, who plays MI5 surveillance expert Danny Hunter, has fond memories of a less controversial scene. “I actually got to run around Trafalgar Square with a gun. It’s classic playground stuff – muttering into your imaginary lapel microphone or wearing a headset pretending you’re on surveillance.

“It was absolutely fantastic. I had to bite my lip and pretend I wasn’t having the best time of my life. We had all these guys, who had actually been in the SAS, following us around with these huge machine guns. It was the middle of the afternoon and we gathered a huge crowd. Then you go home and there’s a pay cheque waiting for you. I can’t believe it!.”

Born in Oxford to Nigerian parents, David, 25, points out that Spooks isn’t a documentary. “I met a real life surveillance guy and he said that 23 and a half hours out of every 24 is really boring, sitting around. And then, all of a sudden, it just goes off – and it’s those moments that you see in the series.

“Once someone’s suspected of a security breach – even if they just type certain words into the internet – MI5 officers have carte blanche to check you out. They can tap your phone remotely, send someone round to bug the place, look at your emails, whatever.

“We actually discovered how much weirder fact is than fiction. There were things that we wanted to put in the series, but no-one would have believed them.”

Keeley, 26, didn’t get many “toys”, but had fun with some very powerful binoculars. “You could look into offices opposite where we were filming and see what was written on paper on people’s desks.”

She’s now gone on to film a role in a new “provocative and shocking” BBC2 drama called Tipping The Velvet, playing Kitty, a lesbian who works as a music hall male impersonator.

Adapted for TV by Andrew Davies and set in the late 1890’s, actress Rachael Stirling stars as Nan Astley, who grows up realising she is attracted to women. Her first love affair is with Kitty. They become a double act both on and off stage, but their manager Walter – ex-Corrie star John Bowe – eventually wins Kitty’s hand.

Has she filmed her first same-sex on screen kiss? “Yes,” smiles Keeley. “It’s all the same in the dark.”

******************************************************************************
TOP TELLY
SPOOKS
(BBC1, 9pm Monday)
THE trailers have already told us that this glossy new drama series is about MI5, not nine to five, so don’t go thinking it’s a 2002 version of Bugs with lots more money. Good cast, topical storylines and secret agents out to save the nation from disaster. How can you resist?

At the end of 10 series, I’m glad we didn’t.

The Outside Agency: Tom Quinn

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61 Comments

Filed under News, Spooks

61 responses to “Spooks: Goodbye

  1. Gillymac

    Perfect. Just perfect. Couldn’t be happier.

  2. Emma

    Love your blogs, only recently found them.

    Hard as it is to accept it was the right ending, Still balling my eyes out though!

  3. I’m sorry, you’ve had however many weeks to prepare for this, we haven’t. I for one feel absolutely at a loss over this ending – how could the scriptwriters/producers whoever else have been so cruel? Maybe it was grown up, it’s also ripped the heart out of me and I imagine countless other fans. Yes I know it’s only TV drama and I should be more concerned with real life but the Harry-Ruth subplot has touched so many people I expected us to be dealt with a little bit more respect come the ending. Disappointment doesn’t come close.

  4. Pepe Low

    Thanks you for your blogs on Spooks and its actors over the years, Ian. Brilliant job, as always. I shall always been following your reports on Nicola Walker. I find it hard to understand why Kudos would bring such a brilliant actress back, and then sacrifice her for the sake of “drama”. I’ve completely lost sympathy for “Harry Pearce” towards the end and felt that Ruth sacrificed herself for a lesser man than she had known. They should have had a female scriptwriter help out, not for a happy ending, but for a more plausible ending.

  5. ColdSpook

    Thank you, dearly, for your last Spooks blog Ian. I’ve read them for years but only now feel I should comment.
    And unfortunately for Kudos, Vincent, and Brackley, I have to agree with the above reply from Sally784. Not only was it catastrophically disappointing, it was unnecessary. Elena, and only Elena, was to blame for the ultimate situation. So why the hell kill Ruth? Drama? I don’t think so. It’s probably just the anger talking, I suppose, but I can’t help feeling just wholly and completely let down.

    • Absolutely – I guess that’s all we have left now, consolation that we’re not alone in feeling this.

      • ColdSpook

        Yes I suppose so. I’m getting the impression from various online communities that in the wake of this, fans are justifying Ruth’s death with the idea that it keeps within the style of Spooks. I suppose that much is true… but I genuinely can’t see myself ever doing the same. I wont forgive Kudos. As you say, what we were given really did carry a lack of respect. How many years did we wait… and for what? *Sigh*

    • James Armstrong

      It is nice to know that some are finally leaning in my direction. I f all of you were to write to Kudos think what might happen.

  6. Having had a little more time to reflect, I wanted to post again to say that whilst I can accept that an idyllic life on the Suffolk coast would probably have been a step too far, couldn’t the scriptwriters at least have left open possibilities rather than slam the door shut so irrevocably. For anyone who’s grown to care about these characters it was a heartwrenching final 10 minutes, and for me will dull any enjoyment I might get from re-watching earlier episodes. For me this a really hard ending to accept.

  7. Smiley

    I have read the majority of your blogs, and always appreciate your style and attitude. You are great.
    As I’m at loss in the brain cell department, I am going to re-post a comment I left on another site.

    >>Did anyone else get the copious amounts of Le Carre (generally ‘Smiley’s People, but a little Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,) references?
    The ending did perfect justice to the series, in my opinion, and to the characters. Not sure about the memorial wall scene thing?
    Well, Harry’s still alive.
    Bafta?<>Yes, I did!
    I agree with you. I think it was perfect – and that includes the memorial wall, which I thought was a very fitting way of paying tribute to all the other officers who’d lost their lives in the course of their service.
    Bafta? Yes. Definitely. For the show in its entirety. Absolutely brilliant.
    My only complaint is that at ten tomorrow morning I have to get a plane. I am a nervous flyer at the best of times. Having just watched that is NOT going to help!!<>True, of course. The Spooks characters are brilliant!
    Only thing for me, is that the real guys would not get this kind of recognition.
    You’re right though; it was right for the show.
    Peter Firth has just blown me away. Wow.<<

    Thanks again, Ian. Keep it up, in regards to other programmes.

  8. Rosemary

    What a superb last episode. I was completely and utterly drained by the end, but I can’t remember the last time an hour has passed so quickly. Enough twists and double-crosses to satisfy even me. Outstanding acting, and even time for a quip or two. Yes, the ending was tragic, but I think it hit the right note. So clever to have Tom Quinn and his private security agency to come in to assassinate the Russian nationalist, especially since he knew Ruth from way back when. A quick look back to the early days of ‘Spooks’, beautifully done. And the very last two scenes, with Harry going to the memorial wall – a lovely nod to all the other officers who died, moving but not cloying – and then back to his desk to carry on the fight despite everything, were absolutely perfect.

    Yes, goodbye to Spooks and to your wonderful Spooks blogs, Mr Wylie. I only discovered them in the last two or three series, but I’ve enjoyed them so much – thank you!

    Now, could we round off by awarding the whole show a well-deserved Bafta, please?

  9. Georgia

    Nicola walker was absoulutely Amazing!! That was so touching and emotional, it may not have been the happy ever after that everyone wanted but that had the shock and the heartbreak that will make us remember the brilliant piece of British television forever! loved it, sobbed like a baby in my mums arms :(

  10. Jackie

    Of course Ruth had to die! Harry has been a solitary loner for the past 10 years and it wouldn’t have rung true for him to retire to that little house by the sea with Ruth and be able to happily adjust. Let’s be honest, on viewing the house he didn’t get far before heading briskly back to the Grid. Ruth made the ultimate sacrifice for her man, in fact she insisted on it the minute she gave Gavrik that key. There was a look between them that spoke volumes. As sad as I am, it had to be this way.
    I’m going to miss Spooks and all that goes with it, especially you Ian so thanks
    Ian for some wonderful insight, terrific interviews and teasing reviews.

  11. Emma

    I’m a little bit heart-broken. I can see why so many people think it’s a fitting ending and the tension in the show tonight was suberb; however, after 9 years of the Harry and Ruth storyline I was devastated at the ending. Not saying that she shouldn’t have died or that they should have ridden off into the sunset (though I’d have been very happy with that!) but I think the final scene between the two could have been a hell of a lot better (dialogue wise, the acting and location were perfect!). I think this final ep would have benefitted froma women’s touch (whoever wrote 5.5 would have been perfect).

    Still the last 10 years have been a blast and I can only hope that I never get caught up in a show the same way again – the pain at the end is too much!

    On the plus side, thanks for all your blogs Ian, they’ve been great. And not only the Spooks ones, all the other shows you’ve mentioned have been well worth watching!

    I’m just going to have a last whisky and a cry in the corner before I move on with my life!

  12. Kathleen

    Oh my GOODNESS! Absolutely. Heartbreaking. Harry going to the house? Harry scanning the names on the wall? Am in complete sympathy with the above posters, as my heart, too, has been absolutely ripped from my chest. But I also agree that it’s a ‘fitting’ ending to the series. It’s all about the cost and the sacrifice, isn’t it? But a ‘perfect’ ending has to involve some sort of redemption. Am I missing it?

    However, as for the last line? Epic.

    • Kathleen

      Oh, and, Ian, brilliant job on the blog! Thanks for your insight and interviews. Though, of course, I’ll still be reading after tonight. Afterall, gotta keep on top of what’s coming up on the Beeb!

  13. Sean

    Reminded me a lot of the Ashes ending. Lost love, pressing on lonely for the good of others and splitting the audience reaction between those who wanted the happy ending and those who liked the bitter-sweet ending. Personally, I found it an emotional but strong ending and loved the Tom Quinn / MM cameo. Nice to bring it full circle.

  14. I’ve been one of Spooks’ biggest fans for a while, and am part of many of the online communities you talk of – yet I couldn’t agree more with Nicola, yourself, or, indeed, Ruth. Much as it would have been lovely for there to be a happy ending, it wouldn’t have been “them”.

    I do almost wish they’d ended on the shot of Harry looking at her name on the memorial, though; that was the most beautiful, poignant image.

    And Callum’s line – “bad people want to kill us” – was just perfect!

    A horribly sad, heart-breaking end, but very much what was right for the show.

    Rest In Peace, Ruth Evershed.

  15. Felt I wanted to add one more post to your blog before, like Emma above, I put this to one side and move on with my life!

    I’m afraid I still feel bitterly disappointed by the ending, despite all the comments I’ve read that ‘Spooks doesn’t do happy endings’. I really enjoyed this series, but as much as I’m a Spooks fan I’m also a Harry-Ruth fan so the end was desperate.

    Not only were the circumstances in which Ruth dies so heartbreaking (when she and Harry were so close to seeing their way out of years of missed chances), but Harry’s left mired in more misery than ever before although somehow clinging onto his job (what’s happened to the Albany enquiry and the CIA extradition?) How can this be a fitting finale to a journey of 10 years? And what a waste of Ruth’s brilliance.

    Part of the reason I feel this is so unfair to fans is that Harry and Ruth have been the one constant in recent years that has not only added something really special to Spooks but even allowed many of us to overlook the glaring shortcomings and far-fetched plot in S9. I now understand all the better how dismayed fans of Richard Armitage were last year at the way Lucas was dealt with. A year on it’s Ruth’s fans who are left reeling, and to say I’m disappointed is an understatement.

    It is what it is though, maybe one day I’ll see it differently.

  16. There will now be lots of Spooks fans as devastated as many of the Ashes to Ashes fans were at the end of Series 3 , I feel your pain folks !

  17. Elaine

    We always watch Spooks the night after it airs and I was petrified that I would come across ‘spoilers’ before seeing the final episode… thankfully Imanaged to avoid any… What did I think? I’m very sad that Harry and Ruth never got their ‘happy ever after’ but in all honesty I don’t think that was ever on the cards, was it? I loved Ruth, she was a brilliant character wonderfully played by Nicola Walker – hubby and I were very sad when she left and cheered like mad when she came back. Of course we wanted her and Harry to get together but we just ‘knew in our water’ it wouldn’t happen.

    The last episode was brilliant – full of twists and turns as only Spooks can be and keeping us on the edge of our seats… Ruth’s death scene was terribly moving and felt so real (I’ve heard that every actor wants a good death scene and certainly feel that this was better than good, it was brilliant, and heartbreaking and so realistic. I really had to struggle not to cry, it was so sad.)

    And what a fantastic nod to the very first series by bringing Tom Quinn back in for that little cameo – we cheered and clapped, it felt absolutely right to do that! And the memorial wall was a very nice touch. Ah, poor Colin…Adam, Ros, Danny, Fiona, Lucas… what a brilliant cast of characters and talented actors!

    Spooks had been airing for a few years before we discovered it – we quickly bought all the box sets of the ones we’d missed, had a marathon catch up session and have been addicted ever since. We will miss it so much, but there is some comfort in knowing that ‘our Harry’ is still there at Thames House, defending us all – it was terrific entertainment and a fitting tribute to the real life ‘Harrys’ who do the same thing (but far less glamorously I’m sure) for us every day.

    R.I.P. Spooks – you were brilliant. (Oh and we enjoyed your blog too, Ian!)

  18. Beatrice Kimmel

    I wanted to thank you for your informative and fun blogs.

    The storyline of series 10 was too obvious and from the beginning I realized that Harry had been lied for 30 years. Elena and Ruth were better spies than Harry.

    I am angry at Kudos. Ruth was my favorite character and obviously I am very sad about her death. I do understand why she had to die in the name of drama, even though. in retirement both Harry and Ruth could have lead productive lives as intelligence service consultants. I get teary at Ruth’s idea to use the second room of the cottage as an office for Harry. She loved him so much and knew him so well. What I do not understand is why Harry and Ruth were not given some happiness before her death. All the younger Section D had an active love life. Harry and Ruth kissed only 3 times and one of the kiss was on a dead Ruth!.

    I am even more mad at the way Kudos treated Harry. Ruth was not only the love of his life, but his wise advisor. Harry is left so bereft. How long will it be before he makes a bad decision as he has done in the previous series and he will be asked to retire for good. Yes, he is still alive, more like a living dead.

    Where is the closure? It seems to me that Kudos has left the door open for the return of a new Spooks in a few years.

    The only saving grace of series 10 and of the conclusion of Spooks was the great acting by the guest actors and the amazing performance of Peter Firth and Nicola Walker.

    • James Armstrong

      Beatrice kimmel: you seem to be the only person who has come close to my way of thinking. I too am angry and dismayed but getting away from my emotions do you remember the series Robin Hood? It was like M.I.5 in that it was excellent in every way. It lasted three series. Hardly worth even making. I was angry at this the same as I am amgry with Kudos but here is where the reaction to the cancellation was completely different Hood had an audience around the world and the reaction to the canvellation was encouraging: People from as far away as New Zealand wrote letters, got om the computer protesting ; iread a lot them. The audience out there was furious andf rightly so. sadly the BBc did not give in but Hood’s following let it be known what they thought. I find myself asking the inevitable question: if an audience can do it for one series, why not another. I found Robin Hood and M.I.5 to be in the same category: excellent. i invite your comments

      • Beatrice Kimmel

        Thanks for your encouraging comments. I liked the fast-paced episode 6 and the whole series 10, even if it was obvious that Elena had fooled Harry for 30 years and that Sasha was not his son. The only surprise was that Ilya was a victim of his wife’s treachery.

        I am speaking for myself now and I am only speaking as a Harry/Ruth fan. I wish I were as eloquent as some of their other fans. The death of Ruth was unnecessary. I found it very painful to witness, especially after Harry and Ruth had finally decided to leave the service and live together. After 9 years of will they/will they not, most fans of Harry and Ruth had expected a happy conclusion to their love. If it were not “Spooks enough”, it was not asking too much from Kudos to give the fans some tender moments between Harry and Ruth and not just beautiful words before the apparition of Sasha. It would not have hurt the “message” of the show.

        Harry broke my heart. He looked so desolate. I do not know why Kudos thought that a clear-cut conclusion to the show was the return of Harry to his office, after they somewhat tarnished his character in series 9 and 10. Ruth had become a better spy than Harry when she challenged some of his ill-fated decisions. Was Harry supposed to regain suddenly his skills as a master spy after Ruth’s death? At least till the end he had remained the decent and honorable man Ruth loved.

        I am sorry that you were disappointed by the cancellation of Robin Hood after only after 3 series. I understand why Kudos cancelled Spooks after 10 years. It is hard to find exciting storylines for such a long time. It seems to me that the fans of Harry and Ruth were not so much upset because the show ended. However, they were expecting a more positive and realistic ending, not such a bleak conclusion. That’s why they are asking for an alternative ending, which I support. I doubt that we will get it. As you said so well, it is worthwhile trying..

      • Honey Monster

        I’ve now had time to reflect – and had the same thoughts as Beatrice Kimmel. I hate plot holes – it was obvious that Coaver was not impersonating Harry as he’d have known that Harry and Elena had met and could no longer have kept up the pretence, making Harry’s idea of sending another message to entrap him nonsensical. Ruth, at least should have worked this out. It’s rather akin to Harry believing Tom’s guilt at the end of series 2 or Lucas’s behavour at the end of series 9. I’ve become increasingly irritated with the producers as the series has gone on for their so called clever twists which can be seen a mile off.

  19. Jane sharp

    Amazed. Shocked. Surprised. Gutted. I think I went through every emotion when I watched the last episode. Yes it was a fantastic ending. Not the one I wanted in my heart but the only end possible , so my head told me. I’m going to miss Harry and the gang but they’re right to end it with everyone wanting more.

  20. Matt

    A perfect Spooks ending. The right (if painful to watch) call to kill Ruth. As someone who has watched this from the beginning I don’t feel Harry would have been suited to life at a cottage in the middle of rural England. He will die at his desk probably after having one last whisky! Ruth’s life was always heaped with tragedy – her dead husband, her fake death etc. her own death at the moment where she might have finally experienced happiness was true to Spooks form.

    Great blog Ian and thanks for bringing us all the additional information on the show over the years

  21. Thank you so much for all your comments so far – whatever your views on the final episode! I read every single word and appreciate your contributions more than I can say. I know I’ve said it before but it really does make all the work worthwhile.

    • ColdSpook

      And thank YOU for all the hard work you put into posting the Spooks blogs over the years. They will most certainly be missed.

  22. Euterpe

    Well! Peter Firth said it was a 6-act Greek tragedy and I’ll be diddly-dog-damned if they gave us a 6-act Greek tragedy! I don’t know if this was intentionally done by Kudo’s, but it is almost more amazing if it wasn’t. None the less, it came complete with a Medea (Elena), an Oedipus (Sasha), a Penelope (Ruth), a Greek Chorus (the threats -of-the-week as played out by Erin/Dimitri), a sage (Calum), and I am pretty sure even Gavrik and Towers have some sort of parallel I haven’t figured out yet, not to mention the hubris, pathos, hamartia and anagnorisis of the sublimely magnificent man himself, Sir Harry Pearce. Topped off with a great, big, silent scream of a catharsis for the characters and viewers. It’s probably still too soon to be this clinical about it, but whether you loved it or hated it, everyone seems to have very passionate opinions and emotions connected to it. Myself included. Now THAT’S theater!

    Thank you for your wonderful blogs. I knew nothing of you until Spooks. You will now be one of my first stops to feed the British TV beast within. :-)

  23. .DVD cover art of Spooks series three…Country of origin.United Kingdom…No. …The third series of the espionage television series known as MI-5 in the United States began broadcasting on 11 October 2004 on before ending on 13 December 2004. The series continues to follow the actions of Section D a division of the British MI5 .

  24. Pingback: Spooks: Goodbye | Life of Wylie | Spooks | Scoop.it

  25. I haven’t thought Spooks was decent for a long time now. I almost gave up altogether after the God awful s6 but then someone told me s7 picked up. It did. Then Ruth came back in 8.1. I was compelled to keep watching to find out what happened to my favourite character.

    Turns out it wasn’t worth finding out. I didn’t find this ending poignant. I found it needlessly nihilistic, lazily written and ultimately rather pointless. Not a definitive ending at all.

    Shame. This show will enter the unlucky ranks in my family of “Show. Jump. Shark.” We didn’t want to admit it for a long time but if it wasn’t obvious by s6, there should have been a warning with Lucas in s9 that the show wasn’t for us anymore. Whoops :P

  26. A month on and the DVD release is nearly here. Unfortunately my email notification from Amazon saying it’s been dispatched was met with less excitement than when I placed the order just before the first episode aired. Let’s say I’ll be owning a copy in spite of, not because of, the way the series got wrapped up. In my view that remains an epic disappointment (and missed opportunity) – what was Kudos thinking?!

    • Beatrice Kimmel

      I am asking myself too what Kudos was thinking after watching some of the DVD extras. We learn about a more positive alternative ending; we listen to Jane Featherstone wondering whether the fans wanted Harry and Ruth to get together (!); we are heartbroken by Nicola Walker’s sadness re the death of Ruth.

      Are we to believe that Harry’s errors of judgment (Albany; the kidnapping of Jim Coaver; the near shooting of a plane) are forgiven because he lost the love of his life and that as broken man he is fit to protect the country? That feels so wrong.

      • Are you serious, how could Jane Featherstone be so out of touch with the fan base?! And to think her Breakfast interview a few months ago seemed quite hopeful… perhaps she should have been on the cast herself for her acting skills rather than heading up Kudos ;)

        I totally agree with you over Harry too – S10 did nothing to improve his stature, Ruth ran circles round him intelligence-wise and his judgement was shown to be lacking. I can’t see how him returning to Section D is meant to reassure anyone.

        And as for those people saying the ground’s laid for a Spooks return or film someday – without Ruth forget it!!

      • James Armstrong

        About Sally’s comment: finally a fan who is coming around to my way of thinking; after all that complacency. I too thought about all those actors being put out of work and i have only heard bits and pieces about series ten. what i was wondering is if another company could buy the rights to M.I.5; Wall to Wall produces the excellent ‘New tricks’ and they have already stated more series will be coming so if enough fans wroote to them perhaps it might help. I cannot make any comments on the scriptwriters until it shows in this area but once I have seen it i will send a letter to Featherstone . I hope the screener allows this message to get through. Keep in touch Sally: we think alike

      • Having now listened to the commentary for the final episode I wanted to record my disappointment (and even surprise) at the cavalier approach displayed by Sam Vincent, Jonathan Brackley and Bharat Nalluri to the ‘Harry and Ruth’ fans. Aside from dismissing us as a ‘minority’ (something I’d challenge), Vincent and Brackley in particular seemed to revel in the bleakness of the ending in respect to Harry and Ruth (which even they acknowledged). Frankly I found their self-congratulatory commentary somewhat arrogant, and did nothing to win my respect.

        Unfortunately I think there’s some truth in the throwaway remark they made that the fans should have used reverse psychology – ironically I think the cult following that Harry-Ruth acquired probably did more to harden the resolve of the scriptwriters than indifference would have done. But what annoys me most is that the producers themselves actively encouraged and played to this in the Series 9 extras and by making a resolution to the Harry-Ruth relationship central to Series 10 (just think back to the pre-series media interviews and trailers) – only to snuff it all out in the final 10 minutes. To me that was not only hugely disrespectful to the fans but also the actors involved.

        Finally, I agree with others who’ve said the final episode would have benefitted from a woman’s touch – absolutely! Also, thank you to Ian Wylie for keeping this blog open – it’s been oddly therapeutic being able to post my thoughts!!

      • James Armstrong

        A response to the two most recent letter writers about M.I.5: since the Kudos scriptwriters seem to be taking an arrogant position and featherstone seems to me to be regretting her desicion albeit in a very subtle way then the fans can easily get revenge by boycotting and and all productions which Kudos makes. Obviously the fans do not want to engage in letter writing which is an excellent way of protesting. I for one am going to send featherstone a letter as soon as national public tv shows the final. Watching it wont be the same though. The excitement will have been replaced by sadness.

  27. Would that be the same New Tricks for which Nicola Walker’s recently filmed a guest part? An odd coincidence! I’d write to anyone if it would help, unfortunately the words ‘horse’ and ‘bolted’ come to mind!

    • Alright, you win – I will write a letter, what harm can it do?!

      • James Armstrong

        Sally: I was not tryingto persuade only you of the potential for the power of letter writing; just two of us is useless; it needs every M.I.5 fan wherevere they are to put pen to paper. then we might get somewhere. And I stress the word ‘might’. Judging from the arrogance exhibited by the script writers of KKudos as noted by another fan it is possible that even writing will not move them. But it will take all of us.. would any fan like to suggest a good daily newspaper to whom I could write expressing my thoughts? Times, Manchester Guardian, Scotsman? James

  28. Sarah

    Ian, it’s taken me a while to get to read this post and make a comment, but I couldn’t not do so after your long-standing promotion and support of Spooks – you’ve always provided fans with insight and something to look forward to.

    I’ve watched the show since the beginning and have enjoyed every series. Some more than others, but all none the less. For me, the finale of Spooks was quite intense viewing, and I was gobsmacked by the outcome. Much as the romantic in me would have liked to have seen a traditional happy ending for Harry and Ruth, that wouldn’t have been Spooks. The end was simply heartbreakingly realistic for this show.

    I will remember Spooks as beautifully filmed, entertaining viewing, with stunning performances from many actors, but most particularly from Peter Firth and Nicola Walker. Thanks to them for giving us a memorable show, and to you for sharing the experience :)

    • James Armstrong

      Some years ago when I was a regular reader of the Sunday Express I read an article about the real M.I.5 and how the tv program had been responsible for an increase in applicants who wanted to defend the realm. Keeping in mind the death of Ros and the fact a cabinet minister was partially responsible for her demise, the death of Ruth-no, I have not seen series ten yet- and the deaths of other M.I.5 officers one at the hands of a fellow officer, Lucas North being other than what he was supposed to be I am wondering if my fellow Brits are going to have second thoughts about joining. The life expectancy does not seem to be too good.. James

  29. Judy

    I have just discovered this site and thank you for it. I live in the states and have seen most all of the series except the last but thanks to various sites have seen the ending. Being a romantic I was just devasted with the ending. Poor Ruth. Three kisses and she gave the most memorable. Too bad the last scene couldn’t be just her dream of not being there. I make up my own scenarios-surviving, getting married in the hospital chapel etc but not living in the cottage.(Couldn’t really see that happening!) Anyway, it was a great show. Maybe we could hope for a movie but not without Ruth!

    • James Armstrong

      Judy: can you please identify these sites as I would like to see the final series; I do not want to buy the CD because I am angry with Kudos for what they have done so if you can get this info. for me I will be grateful. Thanks James

      • Hi James (and Judy) – I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to approve any subsequent comments should they contain details of illegal sites which breach copyright.

    • Don’t know if you’re a Sherlock fan or not Judy but maybe it’s a source for optimism – if Sherlock can somehow walk away alive from jumping off the roof of St Bart’s then maybe there’s a way out for Ruth (afterall the footage we saw was far less decisive than Sherlock’s fall and landing!) Never say never!

      • PS. that’s in the event Kudos ever decide to do any one-off Spooks follow-ups – obviously as it stands the series has finished.

      • Beatrice Kimmel

        For most HR fans, at least for me, Spooks ended when Harry agreed to leave the service with Ruth. I don’t expect a movie or a series 11, but the resurrection of Ruth would be much more credible than that of Ros. A distraught Harry will not last long in the intelligence service without the wise suggestions of Ruth.

        According to the Daily Mail, perhaps not the best source of information, it seems that even MI5 was concerned that “the murder and mayhem of BBC drama Spooks” (I choose to believe that it refers to the unjustified death of Ruth and not to the treachery of Elena) might hurt the recruitment of would-be female spies!

      • James Armstrong

        To Beatrice Kimmel: Last year I made that same comment about the number of deaths not only with the female characters but also the men. I cannot comment on the deaths of Holmes or Ruth because I have not seen them. I am surprised that M.I.5 did not send a letter tyo Kudos asking them to moderate the scripts. On a personal note I feel very let down and disappointed by the complete lack of interest in all fans getting together to protest what has happened!

  30. Judy

    Thanks for the replies. i do understand the breach of copyright. Yesterday, in the states, we had a number of blackouts by various websites protesting the anti- piracy legislation being considered the the U.S, government. (Actually the film/publishing/recording industries vs the free/open access to the web.) The web sites I visted did not charge a fee and the footage I viewed was generally limited to 1-17 minutes of viewing. People had attempted to provide full programs but they were censored by the site and not permitted to do so. To clarify further, the footage I viewed was listed as “film clips” from various providers and disclaimers were given at the end of each presentation with the film company/music studio/artist being I.D.ed as the owners. I guess thats how they avoid breach of copyyright ??

    • Hi Judy – the website blackouts were also in force in the UK, including Wikipedia. What you describe is still a breach of copyright, whether they post “clips” of one minute, 17 or even more. Not charging a fee, stating a disclaimer and referring to the original owners of the material does not make it any less “illegal”. Kudos / BBC (in this case) are entitled to protect the investment they made to create and produce Spooks plus subsequent DVD releases, official paid for Apple Store downloads etc.

  31. I think anything the Daily Mail says should be treated with caution, I’d be very surprised if MI5 commented on TV drama plots, certainly not publicly. I’m sure it’s wishful thinking that there’d be a way out for Ruth if Spooks did ever return in some format, I’d like to think it possible though. (And I love all the theories people have come up with for Sherlock, it’s a sure sign a drama’s hit the mark when people spend this much time debating it – as with Spooks!)

  32. Beatrice Kimmel

    To James Amstrong:
    It seems to me that officially MI5/MI6 did not watch Spooks and they had a point, because it was so far from reality. I did not read this information in the Daily Mail; but Sally784 you are right to be suspicious of the source for my quote. James, imagine the free publicity, even negative, for Spooks if MI5/MI6 indirectly admitted by an official letter of protest that they followed the spy show.

    I understand why you are disappointed by the lack of complains by the HR fans and I admire your resolve. I am afraid that Kudos has moved on. My own boycott is not to get involved as much in other Kudos TV shows and not to buy their future DVDs. I would not be surprised if other fans had the same reaction.

    I would just like to thank Ian Wylie for allowing us to air our grievances, at least in my case, long after the airing of Spooks and at a time when there are so many new exciting TV shows to be reviewed.

    • James Armstrong

      To Beatrice: a couple of comments and thoughts: Kudos has moved on: do you know what projects they are involved with? Secondly the actress who played Ruth said that evrything about series ten was right. My words , not hers My cynical mind(born of experiecne) makes me wonder if the exact words she used were said to keep her in with Kudos. This is what I do not like about actors; they seem to be very loyal to the company even if there are other companies that can take them on. I would like to know what she and Peter Firth really think And as for the scripts being far from reality the episode of suicide bombers (Tom was leader of the section ) was very accurate. that sort of thing is going on today. The one about Iran wanting nuclear capability: they do! I thnk many of the scripts dealt with realty. In fact i

  33. James Armstrong

    I got cut off: tell me which script you think was not realistic?

    • Beatrice Kimmel

      .Spooks is pure entertainment. It is not an accurate portrayal of the British intelligence service. The death toll of Section D is unrealistic. Some episodes boggle the mind, such as the resurrection of Ros, the impersonation of John Bateman/Lucas North, Harry’s belief that he had turned Elena in East Germany without the knowledge of the KGB/Stasi (believe me, any foreigner in East Germany was closely monitored) , the deportation of Harry to the USA with the agreement of the British government and the list goes on. It is true that the episodes with foreign and British terrorists rang true.

      The next spy TV show of Kudos is Nemesis. Kudos’ Eternal Law is airing now. I don’t blame the actors if they do not express their true feelings about a show. Their profession is very difficult and they have to get as many roles as possible in a very competitive field. The death scene of Ruth was beautiful and I understand why Nicola Walker, as an actress, thought it was right. Peter Firth just finished filming World Without End and you can watch Nicola Walker in Inside Men on February 2. She is currently filming Antony and Cleopatra. If you follow the great reviews of Ian Wylie, you will find more about these new TV shows and the name of their producers.

      Just one final comment from me: I still love Spooks in spite of the pointless death of Ruth and the implausibility of Harry’s return to the grid after so many errors of judgment.

      • James Armstrong

        Beatrice: based on what you have said in your reply then it becomes obvious to me that the problem was with the writers. they are responsible for writing credible scripts and to take by way of an example , Ros coming back, as I recall Adam switched the lethal dose in the syringe for one which was safe.. I would have to see that episode again to make sure of my facts but other tv series have used the same method with the explanation that it slwos the heart beat. But I would certainly blame the writers.

  34. Judy

    Thanks MS Kimmel for letting us know what to watch for re Mr. Firth and Ms Walker. I will be eagerly anticipating seeing them in their new venues. I just pre-ordered MI5, vol. 10 which will not arrive until March. Didn’t the British version come out in November? Also, I received vol. 1-9 for Christmas and our Vol. 9 didn’t have the cast/producer/writer interviews found in the previous ones. I just wondered if that is true of the British version?

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