With a big screen outing announced for the return of Spooks, titled: Spooks: The Greater Good, I have a few things I’d like preserved and a few that need avoiding at all costs when the Kudos produced film comes to fruition.
I’ve listed six do’s and don’ts of what I’d like to see. Some require you to suspend your disbelief, but considering Spooks did that on a regular basis it shouldn’t be too hard.
1) Make Harry Central
Spooks without Harry just doesn’t work. The plot details released seem to be suggesting Peter Firth‘s Harry will be disappearing quite early on in the film; possibly bookending it and his protégé Will Crombie, will be the focus. This seems a bad idea to me. Harry makes Spooks, side-lining him and Peter Firth’s amazing acting talents seems a waste.
2) Bring back Ruth
Ruth (Nicola Walker) was cruelly killed off in the series finale, and is probably people’s most favourite character (admittedly mine too) after Harry. The teaming of the pair both personally and professionally brought to life one of the most moving and intriguing relationships in drama (largely down to the actors than the script) and would in essence, even in a small part, make an amazing film. Before you cry she’s dead. I see your point, but Spooks has revived it’s characters on several occasions testing our belief (think Ros’s resurrection, Lucas’s identity change, Juliet’s miracle recovery). How Spooks-like would it be to show Ruth alive and well? Couldn’t it be a conspiracy? Ideas abound, it can’t be that hard. Again it would be a major waste to not use Peter and Nicola’s chemistry and popularity. After all I presume they want bums on seats for this film!
3) Simon Russell Beale as Home Secretary
The snarky Home Sec bounced effortlessly off Harry and gave just the right amount of political worming to make him humorous as well as cantankerous. After watching SRB in the role it’s hard to remember his predecessors. I’m sure William would have plenty to say on the economic state with MI5’s officers jetting round the world. Like that its’ MI6’s territory perhaps?
4) Bring in a female writer/collaborator
5.5 was the only episode in Spooks history written by a female.
The film script has been written by series 9 & 10 writers Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, personally I would have loved either David Wolstencroft or Howard Brenton to return to pen the film, but I really think the film does need a female writer brought in to balance this script out. I don’t want just explosions and action, I want heart! Something which these writers, as well as many of the previous writers (all male bar 1 episode) failed to incorporate in the TV series. Yes our spies need to be like flawed super heroes, but they also need to be relatable. It sometimes felt as though these officers were unfeeling robots. Show some consequence and humanity amongst the chaos.
5) Appearances from Malcolm, Tom and Zoe
The main problem the film has is Spooks penchant for killing off characters has left the former talent pool rather bare. Malcolm (Hugh Simon), the mild – mannered geek was sadly missed after he walked out of Thames House. Team him with a young apprentice and it will be like he never left. As for Keeley Hawes and Matthew MacFadyen neither are adverse to the idea. Matthew appearing in the final of episode 10 and Keeley showing an interest. Plus Matthew has appeared in several successful films making him more bankable. With few surviving characters in an ensemble film I’m sure alongside Ruth (I know, I’m determined!) at least one or two other characters we know from the series can’t be that much of a chore?
6) Show tradecraft
This element got a little lost as the series progressed but would both make it more realistic and fun for the audience. The world has changed significantly since the cold war, CCTV is now everywhere. I imagine a little more imagination is needed for a dead drop or clandestine meetings. There’s nothing that says spies like tradecraft but let’s avoid The Americans wigs debacle though.
1) Kill Harry
Huge no-no! Yes it would create shock-value and we know Kudos love to do that. But isn’t it a bit old hat now? We’ve come to expect it. I’m more interested in a quality script, high production values and a well-loved character for once, surviving and happy against the odds. The fact they’re calling the film ‘The Greater Good’ leads me to believe Harry is going to sacrifice himself for exactly that, and I’m sure many officers do. But not everyone doesn’t live to tell the tale. It’s beyond unrealistic to go that far. I’m sure there are many officers who have a happy work-life balance in the services. On the wage they’re paid many choose to be there, so reflect that occasionally.
2) Have Will in a doe-eyed romance
Think Tom, Lucas, Adam all ended up in relationships that rendered highly trained spies completely useless. Lucas was probably the worst offender with Adam not far behind. I’m fully expecting this, in fact I’m highly expecting a James Bond type infatuation on either side. But don’t! If you really have to go this route (and it’s not H/R) then think more Bourne less Bond.
3) Romance for Harry
I shall simply say unless it’s Ruth (see above point) this is a big no-no!
4) Abandon London or The Grid
The grid is synonymous with Spooks. To see the team working from somewhere else or no shots of Harry in his office would seem a bit odd. Similarly, Spooks locations are central to its character and appeal. Jet-setting off here there and everywhere may seem exciting, but don’t lose touch with the core elements that make Spooks what it is… and British. See point below.
5) Pander to the Americans
This is probably highly tempting given the money to be made, but realistically the US never really took to Spooks (known as MI5 in the US), plus it would undo several character traits, namely Harry’s disdain for the Americans which also provided comic effect. Make a brilliant film regardless of nationality and word will spread. No need to please the countries you have little chance of attracting anyway.
6) Murder a franchise for shock value
I can see this is a huge chance for Kudos and the writers to wow an international audience. I expect shocks yes, but please leave the shows reputation in tact, which personally I felt has taken a huge knock in recent years with every character the audience comes to love being killed off. It got to the point where we saw no point in investing in characters we knew wouldn’t survive. I’m not saying everyone has to survive but a little tact and payoff wouldn’t go amiss. You want me to watch your film, spend my money, believe in your characters and tell my friends and praise it after? Loyalty goes both ways.