MI5 Not Nine to Five

Harry PearceLess than a week before the end of series nine of Spooks and I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned once in my posts. I’m surprised because it is one of the few programmes on telly that I make a point of watching.

There will be those of you who don’t or can’t watch it  and will think about switching of now. And if you do watch it, you don’t need me to tell you about it. For those reasons, I’m not planning any great description other than to set the scene.

Spooks first aired in 2002 with the strap-line of the title of this post. It features the work of MI5, the UK’s home intelligence agency. (MI6, or Six, takes care of all the nasty business beyond our shores.}

The second episode created quite a stir when spooks Tom Quinn and Helen Flynn were attempting to infiltrate a neo-nazi group and where found out. Flynn was tortured to make Quinn spill the beans, but he refused and she was killed by having her head stuck in a deep-fat fryer.

This prompted the largest ever number of complaints to the British Broadcasting Commission, although whether people were offended by the violence, or by Quinn’s caddish behaviour I’m not sure.

It demonstrated a recurring though — being the hero in Spooks is no guarantee of invulnerability. In fact, two series seems to be about the average  life expectancy for the main characters.

And that looks to be the fate of Lucas North, the dark hero of the current series, although not in the usual blaze of pyrotechnics, but in disgrace as his secret history as a terrorist for hire catches up with him. Trouble is, there is no obvious successor lurking in the wings as there has been previously. This has prompted rumours that this will be the final series, although the BBC has denied it.

What intrigued me though was how they would handle the change of government between series eight and nine. The Home Secretary is one of the central characters and while there are no explicit references to politics, it is pretty clear that Nicholas Blake is New Labour.

He was ever such a nice chap, even if he was forced to resign after allegations of corruption {a bent politician — who’d have thought it?} and even though he was part of some international, one-world government conspiracy that we never really got to the bottom of.

So I wondered what the writers would make of the coalition government and whether there would be any BBC bias. And it seemed that there would be. The new Home Secretary played by Simon Russell Beale looked and acted like a cartoon Tory — overweight and overbearing.

Sir Harry Pearce is the Spooks boss who report directly to the minister and I’ve always suspected he was was a closet New Labour luvvie. He didn’t take kindly to his new master’s manners and began to ignores his orders, kept the minister in the dark and eventually tendered his resignation.

I thought we were in for a whole series of friction, but the mad, bad Home Secretary became more of a buffoon, happy to acquiesce to the demands of the Americans, Russians and any other of our ‘allies’ despite Sir Harry’s best advice. Since then, the minister has pretty much faded into the background as the drama of Lucas North’s past has moved centre stage.

The trouble with Harry Pearce though is that I can’t see him without thinking of him as leader of the gang in Here Come the Double Deckers in 1970, pictured right in the centre and above as he is today. The man is obviously a born leader.

So twelve months before the next series {hopefully} and until then I will have to make do with the boxed DVD set of series eight which I strongly suspect might be on my Christmas list.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

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