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Feature: Spooks

Rupert Penry-Jones

We go undercover in Bermondsey and bring leading man Rupert Penry-Jones in for questioning…

TV Zone is on set for the new series of Spooks. Actually, that’s a bit pre-emptive – we’re in between interviews sitting in the kitchen of the set of Spooks, watching the telly. Loose Women is on at the moment, and the picture is pretty shaky. You see, Spooks, that drama about spies saving the world with state of the art gadgetry, can only run to a battered portable with a dodgy picture. “You have to fiddle with the coat hanger sticking out the back,” one of the extras reliably informs us. Ah well, I’ll just sit here and read this file that says, ‘CIA Top Secret Information – Classified!’ instead…

A short break in filming means we’re allowed access to the soundstage; today they’re shooting on The Grid, the base of operations for Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) and his team at MI5.

“This episode is about a Russian agent who has blueprints to a trigger for a nuclear warhead,” explains leading man Rupert Penry-Jones, aka Adam Carter. “He’s trying to smuggle them out of the country and we’re trying to find out who to.”

In this gloomy, high-tech base of operations, hidden away on an industrial estate in the heart of Bermondsey, Harry, Jo Portman (Miranda Raison) and Ros Myers (Hermione Norris) are watching their flat screen monitors intently. There’s lots of urgent rushing around as MI5 tracks its prey. “Could you be a bit lighter on your feet, please?” asks the sound man, while in a gap between takes a props man comes on set to polish the glass desks. In an emergency, you need to see the shine.

A little while later we’re back in Penry-Jones’s dressing room, as the actor gives TV Zone a taster of what lies in store in series six. This year the show is attempting something different; instead of a series of largely standalone stories, the 10 episodes form one, over-arcing tale concerning a political stand-off between the UK, America and Iran.

“Each episode has a cliffhanger that leads to the next one,” he divulges. “They’re trying to make it that episodes stand alone as well as linking up but to be honest they just link up! I’ve always wanted Spooks to be like that but obviously it’s a lot harder to write a series where all the episodes link into each other.

“I was worried that the scripts wouldn’t quite work out and to be honest there were a few hiccups to begin with, but if things carry on the way they are this series is going to be even better than last year. It’s more ambitious, it’s very exciting and it’s very topical.

“My main worry was that the first two episodes were so plot-driven that the characters were suffering slightly but they’ve come right back in again now. You need to start the series off with a big bang, which is exactly what we’ve done. It’s huge and very terrifying.”

by David Richardson

Read the full interview in
TV Zone #221

Photo © BBC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

Taken from
TV Zone #221, see below for ordering options
TV Zone #221
November 2007
ships from Oct 17 2007
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