As reported by various news sources today, the tenth series of Spooks to be shown this Autumn will be the last.
The decision was rather unusually taken by the programme makers Kudos rather than by the BBC, on the grounds that they wanted to stop the show whilst it was still “in its prime”. Anybody who watched the most recent season may choose to strongly disagree with this statement, but still.
Despite its dip in form of late, Spooks can easily claim to be one of the most consistently brilliant dramas of the past ten years. This was due to a number of factors. Firstly, its excellent writing. Secondly, its often shocking plots. It speaks volumes that Spooks became something of a victim of its own success in this sense – you ended up expecting the unexpected, which when it happened became, er, totally expected. But the impact of killing one of its major characters in only the first series without any warning is more than most serial dramas ever manage. Although I doubt deep-fat fryer manufacturers were quite so welcoming of this turn of events.
Spooks also did well at revolving its cast, keeping the show interesting but still providing characters you cared about played by quality actors – Matthew MacFayden, Keeley Hawes, Rupert Penry-Jones, Hermione Norris, Richard Armitage, Nicola Walker, Peter Firth and so on.
Spooks will above all be remembered for its endless topicality, for its tackling of difficult issues such as terrorism, germ warfare, trafiicking etc in a way that managed to be both intelligent and sensitive. Whilst it seems crass to treat this week’s rioting as anything other than the dreadful, serious, political issue it is, I still can’t help but wonder what Spooks would have made of it.
The final series will focus on the magnificent Harry, played by the equally magnificent Peter Firth, his past and his relationship with everybody’s favourite lovable oddball genius Ruth (Nicola Walker).
Goodbye, Spooks. May your eagle land in the great big bunker in the sky forevermore.