I think it was probably the most recent, dismal series of New Tricks, combined with the prospect of The Body Farm, that made me briefly contemplate a midlife career change.
Air accident investigator, perhaps? Criminal profiler? The lady who irons Jon Hamm’s under-wear? (What? That isn’t a real job, you say?)
How about being a spy in MI5? After years of devotedly watching Spooks, I was pretty sure I was made of the right stuff.
For a start, if called upon, I would be able to stare meaningfully out of a window. Also, I could very confidently walk through a door that goes “swish” at Thames House, the spies’ HQ.
And I have been known to look closely at a computer screen while shouting at the people around me. (I am particularly good at this.)
Sadly, the MI5 website was unable to answer the two key questions I had about becoming a spy: (a) will I have to run anywhere? (b) will I have to work weekends?
Ah well, never mind. Heaven forbid that television critics should ever be deployed as spies. Though I think we’d be good at finding evidence of ultimate evil. Like spotting that Gaddafi has recorded every episode of Geordie Shore.
I’ve lived vicariously as a spy through Spooks since it began in 2002. But no longer. It is ending for good, and the final series starts on Sunday.
Its makers, Kudos, say Spooks has reached a natural full stop as we mark the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The world, it seems, has come full circle.
But – NO! I am furious about this. I’ve seen every episode and loved every minute of Spooks and, how shall I put this, I DO NOT WANT IT TO END.
British television is, by and large, rubbish at making thrillers. I’m not talking about smouldering, cerebral masterpieces like The Shadow Line. But thrillers where things happen and people chase one another through the streets of London to stop bombs going off. Thrillers where we care what happens to its characters.
Like Harry and Ruth – for God’s sake, they must get together; this is one of television’s great love stories. And damaged Lucas, who jumped from a roof (Spooks has never been afraid of culling its big names).
British television needs Spooks. It needs its verve and its nerve, its febrile intensity. And when Spooks was tense, it was very, very tense.
There are too many examples to list here but what about Ros Myers (Hermione Norris), held hostage in an embassy siege, or Tom Quinn (Matthew Macfadyen) trying and failing to free his girlfriend and child from certain death in a locked house? Or any of its series denouements where characters’ lives were left hanging?
Section boss Harry Pearce and everyone else at Thames House must not be allowed to leave our screens for good. Spooks has not had its day. There is still work to be done in a rapidly changing Middle-Eastern political landscape.
So it’s “only” a drama, but it’s always been uncannily accurate when taking the temperature of an overheated world.
People, rise up. New Tricks lovers have been promised 20 new episodes. What about us? Join me, the campaign starts now: SAVE SPOOKS!