SPOOKS returns for its farewell series at 9pm tonight.
With the BBC1 schedulers placing Sir Harry and his team head-to-head against ITV1 drama sensation Downton Abbey.
So far I’ve seen the first two episodes of both Spooks 10 and Downton Abbey 2.
As I’ve said before, I hope drama fans ignore the hyped-up “rivalry” and find the time to watch both.
Geoffrey Streatfeild joins the Spooks regulars this evening as Calum Reed.
I took part in a round table interview with Geoffrey on set back in April when the cast were filming episode three of six.
Below are the highlights, edited to remove any major spoilers.
As a fan of the show since the very start, he reflected on previous cast members – with Spooks facing its final curtain.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen but I was hoping they’d all come back. Anyone who isn’t dead.”
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Calum is an IT expert?
“Yeah. I don’t think he thinks he’s geeky. He thinks he’s a bit above the geeks, even though that’s what he’s good at – computers and comms and so on. He thinks he’s got more to bring to the table than just IT. I think he resists being called a geek.
“When he arrives he thinks he knows what he’s doing slightly more than he does. So it’s a bit of a learning experience for him.”
He’s described as a maverick?
“He has a theory – what he imagines the MI5 way of doing things is kind of old fashioned. He thinks when he arrives that Harry has an old school, old club tie way of dealing with things. So he’s stuck in the past. And that somehow, because he can use technology and he’s not a private school, Oxbridge guy himself, he thinks there’s another modern way of doing things. Then, of course, he realises that there’s more going on and that Harry is brilliant. He gets frustrated by the way that you’re supposed to do things – I can see three steps ahead, so I jump to step three. He has to learn that you actually have to go through steps one and two.”
Does he upset people?
“Yeah. He upsets everybody because he doesn’t respect anyone when he arrives and they’re all actually really good at their jobs. He thinks he can do it better and just says so and that rubs everyone up the wrong way.”
What does Calum’s arrival mean for Tariq?
“He has to work alongside somebody and they rub each other up the wrong way. But eventually they do become close to each other. Which is all part of Calum’s journey, I think, is to learn to work with somebody. So they have this fractious relationship that then evolves into a friendship.”
You have quite a lot of jargon to deliver?
“It’s quite fun to make it sound like it’s things that you naturally know. I find it quite difficult because I’m not really very brilliant at typing. I’ve just had to do a scene where you have to do that really fast. And I’m just not very good at it. I tend to do a lot of mouse work. I’m so good that, actually, I can do it all with a couple of clicks. But then they said, ‘Can we have some typing,’ and I thought, ‘I’m going to get totally rumbled.’ That’s the thing I find the hardest. Also to make the jargon sound human is important. I do ask what something means.”
Were you a fan of the show?
“I was. I’ve been a fan of it since it began. So it’s kind of weird to join a group of people, who you know their characters. Like the first day, we were on The Grid and I was just talking to ‘Harry’ and ‘Ruth.’ It was just people you know, as a fan of the show. It’s quite intimidating. Fortunately they were extremely lovely, so it was alright.
“And also just walking into set. You know what the pod doors are like. I was really excited. ‘Do I get to go through them?’ I was quite disappointed they got rid of the round ones. They’ve now got square doors. I wanted to come through the round ones.”
Meet any real life MI5 counterparts?
“I did some research. There’s a certain amount that’s available to everyone. But I did quite a lot of reading to find out how it operates. Obviously there’s a certain point after which you can’t really find too much information. There’s actually an online thing – MI5 has a website and you can fill out a questionnaire to find out whether you’d be a good spy. And apparently I would. Though I’ve slightly blown my cover by being in the show. It said you could well apply.
“The questions were interesting from Calum’s point of view because Calum isn’t very good at working in a team. But most of the questions on this questionnaire are to do with, ‘If you were working in a team…’ Calum is brought in by Lara’s character, Erin, because he’s a breath of fresh air. And he also has quite a dry sense of humour which tends to come out at the worst times when things have gone really wrong. That’s one of the reasons why people find him quite difficult to get on with. He makes jokes when it’s just really inappropriate. And because he doesn’t really know what he’s getting into – it’s like making jokes about your boss in front of your boss.
“But it evolves. I found it fun with Max, who plays Dimitri, because he’s really hard. He was in the SBS and has killed lots of people. And don’t think Calum’s killed anybody. He’s come from the other side of it. And so he’s got this really hard nut, good looking, hero guy. Initially they just don’t like each other at all because they’re from opposite ends of the spectrum. But Calum just tries to make him laugh, by taking the mickey out of him. And he just gets nothing for ages. But they’re beginning to warm up to each other. Also because after a bit of trying to solve the situations they find themselves in, you do earn mutual respect. Dimitri works out that Calum actually has something to offer and can solve stuff and does find stuff out really fast. And obviously Calum realises that Dimitri is really good at his job and is not just a dour, hard nut.”
Any action scenes?
“Yes. In the first episode I get out and about. I see some action. But it doesn’t go very well. The times when he does get to go out, he really enjoys it. He wants to get involved and solve things, not just in The Grid.
“He gets blown up and beaten up before he’s even started. It’s like day one at the office – you arrive and everyone’s been told you’re really, really good. So you get given a job to do and you get beaten up…having come in and been really cocky to Harry, then his first two jobs just go horribly wrong. He keeps telling everyone, ‘It wasn’t actually my fault.’ It’s welcome to the real world. But obviously he comes good…Calum has to earn their respect after a disastrous start.”
Having been a fan of the show, you would obviously bow down to Malcolm. Do you hope that he might return yet again to do a scene or two with you?
“I hope so. We don’t know what’s going to happen but I was hoping they’d all come back. Anyone who isn’t dead. It would be like a big grand finale. Some massive operation that needs everyone and they get all hands on deck.”
Erin brought him in?
“They had worked together before. She had recruited him from somewhere in the IT sector. So she trusts him, which makes the dynamic interesting because she knows he’s not just gobby and slightly accident-prone. But she’s constantly telling him to shut up, in that slightly brother-sister way…she can tell him to shut up and he takes it from her, because she knows there’s more to him than that.”
“I made a choice. Because I was a fan of the show, I’ve seen what they’ve all been wearing. And I just thought that although he likes to think he’s style-conscious, he’s also a bit crumpled. So instead of it being like Hugo Boss, he would actually look a bit like he’s just rolled out of bed.”
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