Time to get spooked, again

Опубликовано: Manchester Evening News
Автор: Ian Wylie
Дата: 14 октября 2008
It's been a tense wait, but finally they're back - and there's a new Spook in town.

Spooks returns to BBC1 for a seventh series later this month, with the first two episodes screened over consecutive nights.

Robin Hood star Richard Armitage joins the regular cast as MI5 officer Lucas North, who has spent the last eight years in a Russian prison.

Fans will also discover the answers to more than a few burning questions on the usual rollercoaster ride over eight episodes.

During a break in filming on The Grid - the nerve centre of the MI5 TV team - Richard explains how Lucas is still viewed with suspicion.

"Having been in the hands of the Russians for so long, you need to think that he's on a knife-edge the whole time, that he could turn or break. There's something about him that just gives you a slight unease."

He adds: "I did drop quite a lot of weight for this because, in the first episode, he's described as being malnourished. So I've lost about a stone, which was really tricky because also within the first week was a massive fight sequence. So I still had to keep physically fit."

Lucas is supposed to be fluent in Russian, which caused extra work for the former North and South actor, who plays Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood and, as Harry Kennedy, also married the Vicar of Dibley.

"I tried to learn off a disc but it was just a bit too basic. I'm working with a Russian speaker now who's really good."

It's no secret that Rupert Penry-Jones, who plays Adam, left Spooks during filming earlier this year. But the details of his on-screen exit are under wraps.

Did Richard have any qualms about taking over as a Spooks leading man? "That was a huge fear. They're big shoes to fill, aren't they? But, luckily, they've created something which is a complete contrast. So, hopefully, there won't be too many comparisons.


"And the characters work really well together, which I didn't expect. Adam and Lucas would have made a fantastic team. That was a real surprise. It was a shame it had to end - or did it?" he smiles.

Hermione Norris is back as Ros Myers, whose death was faked in the last series before viewers saw her melt away in a church graveyard.

"She's been undercover in Russia," reveals Hermione, who always planned to return to the drama after taking a break to give birth to daughter Hero. "Getting in and out of coffins was getting to be a challenge at seven-and-a-half months pregnant."

Hermione has worked with Richard before. When she starred as Karen in classic Manchester comedy drama Cold Feet, he played a guest role as her nanny Ramona's boyfriend.

"Lucas in Spooks is a really fantastic character," she says. "He is quite enigmatic. It's a completely different vibe and quality that he brings to it."

The last series ended with chilling scenes involving Adam and Jo (Miranda Raison) at the hands of the Red Backs. But did Jo survive her nightmare ordeal, having begged Adam to kill her?

That's one of those questions answered in Spooks 2008, which has dropped the serial format of last year.

"A lot of people didn't like it because, if you missed an episode, then you were left uninformed," explains Peter Firth, also returning as Harry, the dependable head of MI5's Section D.

"But it sort of doesn't matter with Spooks. You feel you've missed something half the time anyway because it's so complex and fast-paced. They've gone back to the original format this year, with a kind of through story, but not one that you need to keep up with."

With Russia providing the main backdrop, Harry has a new, female, CIA contact to deal with, along with Robert Glenister, still in post as Home Secretary. He also has to decide whether to trust his former protégé Lucas. Peter says the concept of Spooks has proved itself strong enough in the past to allow for major cast changes. But would an exit for Harry be one departure too many?

"Well, I like to think so," he laughs. "Fortunately, I've been willing to stay and they've wanted me to stay. So we'll probably never know the answer to that question because I'll be here to the end, I think."

Time to get spooked, again

Опубликовано: Manchester Evening News
Автор: Ian Wylie
Дата: 14 октября 2008
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