Each week brings with it news of a successful TV series getting the big screen treatment, or there are reports of a well-known movie being reworked as a series on the small screen.

While this may be the consequence of a rabid intellectual property market the boundary between movies and TV is blurring and, as long as the original concept is strong enough, it’s interesting to see how the shift is made.

Wisely known as MI-5 in the States and Spooks on these shores the big screen adventure, The Greater Good, is out in UK Cinemas today. Here are five important things from Colin Hart’s dossier, things you need to know.

1- Spooks Was A TV Series

Spooks - via Kudos ProductionsFor those of you just old enough to vote in the current election you may not know that before it became a film Spooks, or MI-5 as it was called in the US, went through ten series on the BBC between 2002 and 2011 and was syndicated to 26 countries including Bulgaria, Romania and Iran.

It was nominated for the BAFTA for “Best Drama Series” several times, winning in 2003, and took home the Crime Thriller Awards for Best Actor and Best Actress in 2008 for Rupert Penry-Jones and Hermione Norris respectively.

The new film pitches Game of Thrones star Kit Harington into the starring role alongside Peter Firth to fight against international terrorists threatening London.

2 – Spooks Has Racked Up A Significant Body Count

Spooks (2)

Spooks was known for its unflinching ability to kill off much loved and key characters with great enthusiasm long before any studio exec even thought of bringing Game of Thrones to the screen.

In its first series a scene where an agent was executed via a deep fat fryer drew 154 complaints from viewers even though it was shown after the watershed.

The film doesn’t disappoint in that respect and in the TV series all except a couple of key characters, one being boss Harry Pearce, met a range of grisly and story advancing ends throughout the various series, such as the example below via BBC Worldwide.


3 – Spooks Is Disliked By The Security Services

George Smiley from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Spooks is not unique in that respect as James Bond is also a target of their mercifully unarmed disapproval but Dame Stella Rimington, former head of the real MI5, went to some lengths to explain why TV and film spies bear little relation to their real life counterparts and how the reality is a lot more measured and methodical.

Author of “Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy” and former security services agent John Le Carre once described Spooks as “crap” and another former head of MI5, Baroness Manningham-Buller, also made her dislike of it known so I think we can probably conclude that you wouldn’t want to treat and episode of Spooks as an informative documentary any more than you’d watch Iron Man for an insider’s view of the weapons industry.

The dizzying rate at which the plots sometimes twist and the relentless pace of the action may not accurately portray life in “the service” but it can certainly make for engaging viewing as the several million regular TV viewers would attest.

4 – Spooks Caused A Diplomatic Incident

Dr. Evil
In a series which deals with international espionage plots involving other countries are commonplace with the most frequent protagonists, the UK, the US and Russia, all being given the earthy Spooks treatment.  Whilst those governments seem to be able to take these things on the chin it was the depiction of the Chinese secret service in season 9 that elicited a furious response.

Having had Chinese agents apparently trying to kidnap a scientist, detonate a bomb in London and work with the Russians to defeat UK/US cybersecurity the authorities in Beijing reportedly told Chinese TV companies not to cooperate with BBC Worldwide in protest.

Thank goodness the film of Spooks didn’t pick on North Korea or we might be having to stream this film…

5 – Spooks Has Featured Some Significant Actors

Benedict Cumberbatch via spooks.wikia.com

Probably the best known big screen face to come out of the TV series of Spooks is Richard Armitage who played MI5 agent Lucas North but is now much more recognised as the bearded Thorin Oakenshield from The Hobbit trilogy.

Others significant contributors include long time mainstay Peter Firth (Hunt for Red October) who racked up more episodes than any other character and survived into the film, David Oyelowo (Selma) and the previously mentioned Hermione Norris and Rupert Penry-Jones, plus a stack of appearances by other well known names such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Andy Serkis, Hugh Laurie, Robert Hardy, Tim McInnerny and Ian McDiarmid. In return the now very well known Game of Thrones has lent Kit Harington to play a lead role. The circle is now complete.

Spooks: The Greater Good comes out in cinemas this Friday, 8th May

If you want to win the entire series of Spooks – click below…

spooks the greater good