Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) and Ruth Evershed (Nicola Walker)

“NOT while I still draw breath.”

Sir Harry Pearce is a joy to behold in the first episode of the last ever series of Spooks.

With just six hours left before we say goodbye, the writers of our favourite spy drama appear intent on celebrating the man who has been there from the very start.

Or perhaps more accurately, a skilled actor by the name of Peter Firth.

Jane Featherstone on BBC1 Breakfast today

“IT does go out with a fantastic bang. Ruth and Harry’s conclusion is sensational and there are some surprises for the loyal fans.”

“I just don’t want it to get tired and old.”

“We kill off our characters all the time in their prime. The show’s got to be killed off in its prime as well.”

Three quotes from Jane Featherstone live on the BBC1 Breakfast sofa around 8:40am today.

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.

FILMING began last month on series 10 of Spooks, due on screen this autumn.

It’s now been confirmed that Sophia Myles has left the BBC1 drama after just one series as Beth Bailey.

While an old secret comes back to haunt Harry Pearce, played by Peter Firth.

Will this be the last series of Spooks?

I asked BBC Drama boss Ben Stephenson that very question a few weeks ago.

Lucas and Maya

“WHAT if there was one time in your life when everything made sense?

“What wouldn’t you do to go back?”

Lucas / John tries to explain to Ruth why he’s risking everything for a new life with Maya (Laila Rouass).

Before giving Ms Evershed (Nicola Walker) marriage advice.

Spooks series nine, episode eight, brings the 2010 season to a close with Section D hunting one of their own.

Driving Lucas (Richard Armitage) crazy

“YOU have a name, a life, that were never meant to be yours.

“You’ve got no friends, no family, no past. You’re not a real person.”

Spooks series nine, episode six finds Lucas / John caught on a hook.

Reeled in by Vaughn to the point of risking everything for Maya.

And capable of shocking behaviour.

Nicola Walker as Ruth

THE interview notes are buried somewhere in my archives.

I first met up with Nicola Walker back in the late 1990s when she starred in The Last Train and Touching Evil.

She is, of course, now best known as Ruth Evershed in Spooks.

While still finding time for stage roles, including another at the National Theatre in London this Christmas.

I spoke to Nicola again recently for the new series of Spooks.