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Spooks

From Academic Kids

Spooks is a British television drama series, produced by the independent production company Kudos for the BBC One network. The title derives from a popular slang term for spies, as the series follows the work of a group of MI5 agents. The programme was created and is chiefly written by David Wolstencroft. It is known as MI-5 (with the incorrect dash) on A&E in the United States, but is aired as Spooks on BBC Canada and on the ABC in Australia.

Contents

Storyline

Starring Matthew MacFadyen, Keeley Hawes, David Oyelowo, Jenny Agutter and Peter Firth, the initial series of six one-hour episodes was screened in the spring of 2002. The series was a critical and popular success, combining glossy high production values with fast-paced action/adventure and spy intrigue storylines. The second episode was remarkable for the violent killing-off of a character (played by Lisa Faulkner) who had been presented to the audience as a regular in the first two episodes, surprising viewers who would thus have expected her to have been rescued. It did however anger many viewers, who had BBC phone switchboards jammed with complaints. Regularly drawing seven to eight million viewers, a longer second season of ten episodes was screened in 2003, again drawing praise, particularly for the dramatic cliffhanger ending of the season finale.

A third season, again of ten episodes, was transmitted on BBC One in the autumn of 2004, concluding on December 13th. Over the course of the season all three of the original leading trio, MacFadyen, Hawes and Oyelowo, left the programme, their departures staggered over the second, sixth and tenth episodes respectively. MacFadyen's character Tom Quinn was replaced by Rupert Penry-Jones as Adam Carter, drafted in from MI6 to help investigate Tom's disappearance in the first episode which carried on directly from the second season cliffhanger. After Tom's departure Carter joined the team permanently, with his wife Fiona (Olga Sosnovska) augmenting the line-up following Zoe's (Hawes) departure. Oyelowo's character, Danny Hunter, was killed off in the dramatic season finale. Although fan response to the changes of leading cast was generally negative and the season garnered varied critical reactions, a fourth season has been commissioned, and is expected to be screened in late 2005.

Cast

The programme regularly attracts popular actors, with actors such as Hugh Laurie, Andy Serkis, Anton Lesser and Anthony Stewart Head having appeared in episodes of the first three seasons. Tim McInnerny appeared in a recurring role during the third season.

The main characters include:

Episodes

The series airs with no credits, to maintain an atmosphere of the anonymity of real-life spies. Individual episodes have no official titles, though there are internal working titles. The US version airs with official titles that sometimes, but do not always, match the working titles. When different, American titles are in parentheses.

Series 1

  1. Thou Shalt Not Kill
  2. Looking After Our Own
  3. One Last Dance
  4. Traitor's Gate
  5. The Rose Bed Memoirs
  6. Mean, Dirty, Nasty (Lesser Of Two Evils)

Series 2

  1. Legitimate Targets
  2. Nest of Angels
  3. Spiders (Hackers)
  4. Blood & Money
  5. I Spy Apocalypse
  6. Without Incident (President's Visit)
  7. Clean Skin
  8. Strike Force (Military Strikes)
  9. The Seventh Division (A Very Corporate Coup)
  10. Smoke and Mirrors (Pit of Secrets)

Series 3

  1. Project Friendly Fire
  2. The Sleeper
  3. Who Guards The Guards?
  4. A Prayer For My Daughter
  5. Love and Death
  6. Persephone
  7. Outsiders
  8. Celebrity
  9. Frequently Asked Questions
  10. The Suffering of Strangers

Foreign sales

In the United States, the series is screened on A&E, a specialty cable channel, under the title MI-5. This is partly due to the fact that the word 'spook' is an old racist slang term for African Americans, and the network did not wish to risk the possibility of causing offence, and partly because in the US, "spook" is more generally associated with the CIA. Series 3 began in the U.S. right after the U.K. run ended and wrapped up with Episode 10 on March 12, 2005. The first two series were shown on A&E as a single 16-episode season. Due to the need to insert commercial advertising breaks, the episodes shown on A&E are heavily edited versions, with each 59-minute installment being edited down to roughly 45 minutes for US showings, often causing some narrative problems for American viewers. The full versions are, however, available on DVD in that country. Its modest success in America is reminiscent of the 1960's "golden age" when several British spy/action dramas such as The Avengers, The Prisoner and Danger Man (called Secret Agent in the U.S.) successfully rebroadcast across the pond.

In Canada, the series is also screened on BBC Canada, a specialty digital cable channel, under its original BBC title Spooks. It is shown uncut and unedited on BBC Canada. BBC also show Spooks on their entertainment channel BBC Prime in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The program is also aired as Spooks in Australia on the ABC. In Sweden it airs as Spooks on SVT1, and in France the programme is called MI-5 and broadcast on Canal Plus.

External links

fr:MI-5 (série télévisée)

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