Aug 12, 2011

Official: Spooks (AKA MI-5) is Ending

Confirming what was first hinted at in a May press release for the American release of the Volume 9 DVDs, the BBC has confirmed that Spooks (known in America as MI-5) is indeed coming to an end after ten seasons. The Guardian reports that the decision to end the popular long-running spy drama comes from the show's producers at Kudos, and not from the network. They say they wanted to see it go out "in its prime" rather than see it cancelled by the BBC down the line. Whether or not it's actually still "in its prime" is a matter for fans to debate, but the series has seen amazing longevity thanks to the producers' ability to reinvent it again and again with a constantly changing cast. (I don't think I've ever seen another spy show kill off as many lead characters, a fact that kept the series unpredictable, since viewers knew no one was ever safe.) According to the newspaper, the 10th and final season will focus on Peter Firth's character, Harry Pearce (the head of counter-terrorism at MI-5) which is entirely appropriate as Harry is the only remaining character who's been on the show consistently since Season 1 and thus its de facto true lead. While it's had its ups and downs, I've really enjoyed Spooks overall, and I will be sad to see it go... but I agree with Kudos that it can't run forever. I look forward to seeing how they wrap it all up. I hope that some of the few past stars who actually survived will return! (Most of all I'd like to see Harry Pearce go another round with Hugh Laurie's condescending MI-6 man from Season 1, Jules Siviter. That seems unlikely, however, given Laurie's House commitments.)
Thanks to The Harry Palmer Movie Site's Kees Stam for the alert on this one!

Read my review of MI-5: Volume 1
Read my review of MI-5: Volume 2
Read my review of MI-5: Volume 3
Read my review of MI-5: Volume 4
Read my review of MI-5: Volume 5


Anonymous said...

Personally, I think the series started going downhill after Matthew McFadyen and Keely Hawes left - and how many years ago is that?

It all got too fanciful for me. But having said that, it was still one of the better things on British TV and will remain so.

But to be honest, I think the BBC would have axed this anyway. I think Kudos' decision to end it now is the right one.

Tanner said...

You're probably right that the BBC wouldn't have kept it going too much longer with the licencing fees issue.

So here's some of that fan debate! In Season 4, I totally would have agreed with you that Spooks' best years were behind it along with Hawes and McFadyen. But then I loved Season 5. That's where the producers demonstrated their ability to totally reinvent the show to suit its new cast members. It wasn't the same sort of show as the gritty, realistic spy drama McFadyen had headed. Now it was an escapist 24-like conspiracy fantasy... but it did that damn well.

After that it kept having growing pains and usually creaked a bit when new leads came in, but the showrunners still managed to reinvent it a few more times. Almost like Doctor Who, Spooks morphed to suit its lead each time and always did it well. I still have certain eras I preferred over others, but I think it had a pretty amazing run overall. And if it had kept going, I imagine we would have seen more downhill bits--but given enough time, also more great ones.