This 10th and final series builds to a massive climax by exploring the secrets in the past of the ever-dependable department head Sir Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) together with his evolving feelings towards assistant Ruth Evershed (Nicola Walker) but in a way that means that even complete newcomers to the series should hopefully be able to follow the convoluted twists and turns as the curtain falls on the series.
Newcomers Erin Watts (Lara Pulver) and Calum Reed (Geoffrey Streatfeild) join the remaining agents of Section D in the six concluding episodes of the series although where the previous series seemed to roll from one action scene to the next in this series time is spent exploring the dynamics between Harry and Ruth which lead us inexorably towards the gripping series finale.
The series has a record over the years for being criticised by Dame StellaRimington, former head of MI5 for it’s “over-excitable” characters, being lampooned by The Guardian as “possibly the most ridiculous show on the BBC” and for seemingly offending pretty much every ethnic and social group along the way from Christians to the Chinese Government with its plot lines. For these things alone I’d say that it deserves huge respect as such offence, while not necessarily on a Frankie Boyle scale, indicates to me the kind of single-minded pursuit of exciting chases, big explosions, messy assassinations and underhanded double-dealing that I like to see in a TV spy series. That and an almost callous disregard for its main characters, dispatching even the most beloved of its agents with deaths ranging from the noble and spectacular to the seriously undignified with every shade in between make this the kind of show you can really get into, assuming you’ve mastered the knack of the “willing suspension of disbelief“.
Spooks is worlds apart from my all time favourite spy series, the original “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” with Alec Guinness’ beautifully paced Smiley and the evocative settings, but as occasions in my life where I have four-and-a half uninterrupted hours to spend on thoughtful drama are few and far between I more often find myself with a spare hour in which excitement and entertainment are prime considerations. This is where Spooks comes in.
In addition to the final six episodes the DVDs include the extras “Harry’s Game” which explores what it is that makes Harry Pearce tick and features interviews with all the key cast and crew members plus “Spooks Top 10 Moments” from all of the ten series as voted for by the cast and crew themselves. I’m pretty sure that moment number 9 was filmed at Legoland Windsor though if you’re squeamish you probably want some warning that it does feature a couple of the more gory and traumatic death scenes.
If you like your dramas with documentary-esque levels of accuracy then this may not be your cup of tea but this is an outstanding series with brilliant action with some intense ethical challenges thrown in to keep the grey matter moving. Just remember that when you’re watching it, as they say in Harry’s Game, “anybody at any point is expendable”.
Spooks series 10 on DVD is available now in shops and online.
Episode 1 (also with commentary)
Episodes 3, 4 & 5
Episode 6 (also with commentary)
Extras: Harry’s Game & Spooks Top 10 Moments