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.
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.
“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.
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.