Spooks: Goodbye Harry

Peter Firth as Harry Pearce

IT’S been an open secret for some time that Spooks had come to the end of its long and winding road.

Today came final confirmation that series 10, due on screen next month (September), will be the last.

You can read the full official press release at the end of this blog.

The end came as no surprise to fans of the BBC1 show, who were left wondering why the BBC and production company Kudos had left it so long to confirm what everyone knew.

With Kudos said to have taken the decision themselves to end the series and move on to other things, including an already announced (Jan 2011) new eight-part BBC1 spy drama series called Morton.

Rather than the BBC wielding the axe.

Chief Executive Jane Featherstone said today: “We have always wanted to end Spooks on a high, but never knew when that time would be.

“Harry Pearce, played by the wonderful Peter Firth, has always been at the heart of the show and this series focuses on Harry’s past, bringing his tumultuous relationship with Ruth to a head. As we near completion of this year’s show, I’m sorry to say but it feels this series is a fitting end to a much-loved show.

“It’s very tempting to keep going, and we have had on-going conversations with our partners at the BBC about it, but the heart of the show has become those two characters and I feel they own it. We’ve followed the arc of their personal story and I think they’ve brought us to a natural end, which you will all see played out later this year.”

There was already speculation that Spooks was nearing the end of the road when I spoke to Peter Firth (Harry Pearce) in early February.

I asked him directly if series 10 was going to be the last, knowing full well that it was a question he could not answer.

I later asked BBC Drama boss Ben Stephenson to come clean and put Spooks fans out of their misery.

But his lips were sealed – a gesture which, in itself, spoke volumes.

Back on set again a few weeks later in April, I asked Peter Firth and Nicola Walker (Ruth Evershed) about the series coming to an end.

All are actors under contract and it’s not their place to announce such things until it is confirmed and made official by their employer.

I knew that. And they knew that. So the dance had to continue.

But it appeared clear they were working on the last ever series, reduced this year to just six episodes with no increase in budget per hour.

Or as Peter told us: “A proper budget cut.”

In the end, it was left to a veteran supporting artist – extra – to confirm what everyone knew.

Waiting to be called in front of the cameras on The Grid, he said: “It’s such a shame that they’ve axed the series.”

It was, in truth, an Alice In Wonderland situation.

But with the BBC / Kudos representatives denying any decision had been taken, we were all left to wait for today’s official confirmation.

Nicola Walker as Ruth Evershed

I was at the press launch for the very first series of Spooks and have interviewed the cast and gone on set for every subsequent series.

Personally, I think Kudos has done the right thing.

But it seems a shame that Kudos and the BBC did not finalise the decision and announce the news when details of series 10 were first released on April 1 of this year.

There may, of course, be very good reasons for that. The TV industry is full of unseen complications that can delay decisions and announcements.

I’ll let you know if I find out more.

My interviews for the last ever series – which will include surprises from Harry’s past – are still under embargo.

For the moment, here’s an early audio extract from Nicola Walker.

I asked her how she would feel IF series 10 was the last:

Plus that official BBC release in full:

As the award-winning spy drama Spooks enters its tenth series, producers Kudos Film & Television reveal that after a decade on screen, the show will bow out at the end of its next run on BBC One this autumn.

Hailed as a benchmark for British drama, and consistently averaging an audience of over six million, Spooks has been a firm favourite with BBC One viewers since 2002. The ground-breaking series has remained topical and timely, often staying one step ahead of the news agenda and exploring some of the major security stories of the day. It has been famous for killing off its much-loved characters in their prime, and now the series itself is going to be killed off at the top of its game.

Jane Featherstone, Chief Executive, Kudos Film & Television, and the show’s executive producer, said: “We have always wanted to end Spooks on a high, but never knew when that time would be. Harry Pearce, played by the wonderful Peter Firth, has always been at the heart of the show and this series focuses on Harry’s past, bringing his tumultuous relationship with Ruth to a head. As we near completion of this year’s show, I’m sorry to say but it feels this series is a fitting end to a much-loved show. It’s very tempting to keep going, and we have had on-going conversations with our partners at the BBC about it, but the heart of the show has become those two characters and I feel they own it. We’ve followed the arc of their personal story and I think they’ve brought us to a natural end, which you will all see played out later this year.

Newly released image of Ruth and Harry

“It’s hard to believe that as Spooks enters its tenth series, the world prepares to face the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities. It feels like now is the time for Spooks to bow out and make way for new spy dramas which reflect the changing world around us. I must add my huge thanks to the truly exceptional writers, actors, producers and crew who have made the show what it has been for the past ten years, and above all my thanks go to all the fans who have supported us over the years. I really hope they love this final surprise-packed outing.”

Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning, said: “Kudos created a groundbreaking series in Spooks ten years ago that challenged convention with its topical, fast paced, contemporary style. It quickly became a hit with audiences and established itself as a key part of the BBC One schedule and redefined drama on the channel for a new generation. On behalf of the BBC, I would like to thank all those involved in the making of the show over the last decade both on and off screen, and hope fans will tune in this September to see what promises to be a fittingly high octane thrilling finale.”

Throughout its decade on screen, Spooks has never shied away from taking risks, continuously reinventing itself and making stars of its leading actors, including Matthew Macfadyen, Keeley Hawes, Rupert Penry-Jones, Richard Armitage and Hermione Norris. Over the years the show has also attracted a number of stellar guest actors, with star turns from Robert Glenister, Hugh Laurie, Lindsey Duncan, Iain Glen, Sophie Okonedo, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tim Piggott-Smith to name a few.

From Helen Flynn’s “death by deep-fat fryer” in Series 1, through to Adam Carter driving the car bomb away from the poppy-day parade, and Connie James’ unmasking as a double-agent in Series 7, the BAFTA award-winning series (originally created by David Wolstencroft and directed by Bharat Nalluri – who returns to direct the final two episodes) has provided some of the most explosive and iconic TV moments of the past decade.

Their story finally to be resolved?

The new series, on screen later this year, sees Harry confront a secret from his past which threatens to destroy him and the woman he loves, Ruth Evershed (Nicola Walker).

Section D has also been left reeling from Lucas North’s betrayal and new leader Erin Watts, played by Lara Pulver (True Blood, Robin Hood), is ambitious, hungry and determined to make her mark. She is joined on the Grid by Dimitri (Max Brown), Tariq (Shazad Latif) and Ruth, with new IT supremo Calum Reed, played by Geoffrey Streatfeild.

Series 10 of the high-octane drama also welcomes Alice Krige (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Deadwood) and acting stalwart Jonathan Hyde (Titanic, Jumanji, The Mummy) to the cast. In addition, Simon Russell Beale (Much Ado About Nothing, An Ideal Husband) reprises his role as the Home Secretary.

Executive producers are Jane Featherstone, Simon Crawford Collins and Howard Burch. The writers are Sam Vincent, Jonathan Brackley, Sean Cook and Anthony Neilson. The directors are Alrick Riley, Julian Holmes and Bharat Nalluri. The producer is Chris Fry.


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18 responses to “Spooks: Goodbye Harry

  1. Pingback: Spooks : End of an Era

  2. THANK YOU, Ian for the Nicola Walker audio clip. Sounded like she was just a little bit choked up already? Spooks have had a good run. Now Nicola is free to take on other, possibly more interesting, projects. A long overdue comedy role, perhaps?

  3. Elaine

    My family and I are very very sad to learn that ‘Spooks’ is to end. We discovered it a couple of seasons after it first started, buying series 1 – 3 on DVD to catch up, and have followed it faithfully ever since. Occasional re-watches are all part of the fun (we have even considered a ‘Spooks-fest’ over Christmas, watching them all from E1 S1 through to the latest – perhaps we’ll save that now for when the very last episode has aired…)! The stories have always been so good, so edge-of-your-seat compulsive. The groans of dissapointment when Ruth left, and the cheers when she came back…

    We’ve accepted the demise/dissapearance of favourite characters as all part of the game and feel strongly that it just wouldn’t be right or proper without Harry at the helm. I had the feeling from the end of last season that something was ‘in the air’ and had my suspicions, but hoped I was wrong. Finding that I wasn’t is very sad, but all good things do come to an end and better that Spooks bows out on top and leaving people wanting more than going on past its time. Not that I really think it ever would be, TBH!

    We will look forward to the final series and thank you to everyone concerned with the show from day one for the years of flawless entertainment. You were brilliant, all of you!

    • James Armstrong

      I do not know if any of my messages are getting through but for the most part the fans seem to be very complacent and accepting of Kudos cancelling M.I.5 Let us have a petition to try and change their thinking. If anyone agress with me please respond to nnjstevenstrong@cogeco.ca James Armstrong Canada

  4. Kathleen

    I’m devastated! But is the devastation worth a resolved Harry/Ruth storyline? Absolutely.

    SUCH a brilliant show, and, Ian, I’m so jealous that you got to chat to cast & crew each season. (And you call that “work”?!) I’d love to buy a pint for them all! And for you, too…

  5. Pat Kennedy

    Whilst utterly devastated that it’s over, I am relieved that it’s been wound up by the creators/producers, rather than simply cancelled. At least [I trust] there will be a logical and well- thought out ending, rather than leaving story-lines dangling and disappearing without trace.
    Can I add my sincere thanks to everyone connected with Spooks, to all the cast and crew for years of excellent, gripping entertainment. It’s been part of our lives for years. It will really be missed.

  6. Pingback: Spooks Series 10 to be the Last | spooks fan blog

  7. Sad to hear this but at the same time I think we all knew it was coming, especially given the spoilers we’ve had for what’s to come in S10. Definitely better to go out on a high with solid ratings, and 10’s a nice number for a DVD box set 🙂 I completely agree the series couldn’t go on without Harry, and everyone knows he and Ruth are the heart of the drama – here’s hoping for a fitting finale.

  8. Pingback: Spooks: Jane Featherstone | Life of Wylie

  9. Sarah

    Thank you, Ian! You can always be relied upon to give us more than a simple re-hash of the media release. I’m looking forward to this series being full of brilliant acting from the wonderful Peter Firth and Nicola Walker, but also dreading the end of Spooks. And awaiting your tantilisingly regular Spooks posts during the series too 🙂

  10. Jorge luengas

    shame…lovely show….my partner love it!!!!!!! good bye Harry and Spooks

  11. James Armstrong

    I do not agree with you when you say you are glad is has come to an end. Being as popular as it is I find it assinine that it has been cancelled. How many American and even British tv shows have gone on for a long time. It is absolutely ridiculous to end it. I’d like to see a petition circulating all over the world to bring it back

    • I didn’t say I was glad Spooks is coming to an end – I said I believed Kudos had made the right decision, which is not the same thing. There are all sorts of factors that lead to the end of a long-running series and I think it’s better to go out on a high with Spooks ending on its own terms.

      • James Armstrong

        But Kudos Jane Featherstone said it was a vey diificult decision which suggests to me that she had the ‘green light’ for more series. I can think of any number of tv series British, American that have lasted longer than ten. so coronation street was a soap opera; it is still going strong and with the fans that M.I.5 has I reckon it could have gone on. My anger is also with the fans who seem to be taking it so calmly. for my part i intened to send a letter to Kudos a follow up to my email messages to them I would just like to see an effort made to try and get it back. James armstrong

  12. James, I do know where you’re coming from – I was very sad to hear the news. BUT for me, personally, Harry (and Ruth) is the cornerstone of the show; and to be realistic, at what age do MI5 bosses retire (assuming they aren’t ‘retired’ on the job, permanently)? I would imagine that Harry must be getting close to retirement age, given the nature of the job. And even if not, if Harry isn’t on board then I honestly don’t believe that it would be ‘Spooks’ any more. Section D operatives come and go but I kind of saw the writing on the wall when Malcolm went.

    My personal feeling is that once the creators have taken the collective decision to bring the show to a close, there most likely won’t be anything we can do about it. Of course, it does rather depend on how it ends… I feel that we should wait until we’ve seen that before mounting a campaign. If,when it ends, I feel that there could and should be more then I’ll be the first to join in, believe me! Season 10 is almost certainly done and dusted now – they aren’t still filming, are they?? (serious question but I’d imagine not)

  13. Rosemary

    I think Kudos has done the right thing, and sad as I shall be not to have my yearly ‘Spooks’ fix, I shall have ten years’ worth of excellent DVDs to watch and re-watch!

    I am a teeny weeny bit apprehensive, though. While I have found the Harry and Ruth story sweet, it was always – and to me always will be – a minor part of the back story and no more. And while I feel that Harry is the backbone of the cast, I have never felt the same about Ruth. I don’t dislike the character, but I didn’t especially miss her during the time Nicola Walker was out of the cast. And to say that Harry-and-Ruth ‘own’ the show seems to me a touch disrespectful to the many other actors who’ve contributed to it over the years, although I’m sure Ms Featherstone didn’t mean it that way.

    While I’m looking forward enormously to Series 10 I do very, very much hope that it remains a show about MI-5 and doesn’t turn into a Harry and Ruth soap opera. Is it an offence against national security to say I don’t really care whether they get together or not?? 🙂

    • Kathleen

      Hold on, “Spooks” legions! Don’t stone her yet! 😉

      I, for one, care very much whether they get together, but like you, I don’t want it to be an A-plotline. (And I think there are many people who would agree with me!) That’s been the beauty of the Harry/Ruth relationship – that’s it’s always been below the radar in a way. It’s also the beauty of “Spooks” that it’s first and foremost a show of action, spies, and political intrigue. It never would’ve made it 10 series if it had been anything else…and I’m pretty sure the writers know that.

  14. Pingback: RichardArmitageNet News » Blog Archive » August 2011 news archive

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