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Meet Spooks’ new girl Beth Bailey!

16 September 2010   |   Written by Patrick McLennan

Section D has a new recruit. Actress Sophia Myles reveals what it’s like to join the hit BBC1 spy show…

Tell us about Beth Bailey…
“We met her in the first episode, when she was working as an undercover mercenary. She asked Harry for a job and he recruited her. This week she gets her first mission, protecting an oil baron from a suspected assassination attempt.”

Isn’t Beth based on a real woman?
“Yes, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her. She was headhunted by MI6 when she was 18 and at university, and was picked to undergo the very intense fast-track selection process. She did the training and did very well but she was in her youth, she was a rebel, and she decided she didn’t want to work for such a heavily organised bureaucracy. So she decided instead to pursue a career in the private sector of investigation and intelligence, but her morals got the better of her eventually. She’s in this game for good.”

Is that the same with Beth? Is she in it for good or is she self-motivating?
“They’ve definitely added elements to make it darker, I think. It’s revealed that there’s a part of her past that’s shady. But the reason she’s passionate about working for MI5 now is that she really wants to shine light on the skeletons that are in her closet and get clean.

“The other thing that you should probably know is, in our story, when she was 18, Harry Pearce was one of the board members on the MI5 selection committee, so they’ve met years and years ago. So for her it’s a bit like running into an old teacher from school.”

Is that a fair assessment of their relationship now?
“I think there’s a great amount of respect there, both ways. And he always thought that she was very talented. In the early days he was concerned about her rebellious streak. She was expelled from numerous public schools and she always did things her way and wasn’t willing to listen back then. But she is now.”

Is there a romantic spark between Beth and Lucas?
“No, no. He’s actually highly suspicious of her because she’s highly confident. Obviously she’s come from the private sector where she’s probably making 300K a year; he’s at MI5 where he’s on 24. He has no idea of the fact she’s been doing it since she was 18 and she’s massively qualified, but he can’t quite figure her out. She likes him more than he likes her. She tries to take the mickey out of him a bit and he doesn’t like that.”

Had you been a fan of the series before?
“I’d never seen it. I sat down and watched a few and I was absolutely terrified. I can’t watch them late at night, they stress me out too much. I go to bed with heart palpitations!”

What’s it like, joining such an established show?
“I was really nervous being the new kid on the block. It’s like joining the Big Brother house late – when you already know more about them than they do about you!”

What’s it like on set?
“The show is so serious, but it’s like a comedy behind the scenes. Peter Firth, who plays Harry Pearce, is so naughty. He prides himself on making us laugh at inappropriate moments, and I’ve always been a giggler. But I haven’t been fired… Yet!”

Is it a physically demanding role?
“We all try to keep as fit as we can. The real woman this character’s based on told me she runs for 11k every morning before she eats breakfast. That’s one thing I haven’t managed to do! But we keep fit outside of work so we’re less likely to do ourselves an injury on the job. There’s a lot of running around so you want to be as supple as you can, but they’ll always bring in stunt people if there’s something that is dangerous.”

Are you the type of person who likes doing your own stunts?
“No. I always prefer to hand it over to the professionals. The stunt people are much better of it, so I’d rather they’d do it and make it look better. And I don’t want to get hurt!”

Spooks screens on Mondays at 9pm on BBC1