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Agents of Change

from TV Times (UK) / by David Hollingsworth

New recruits, new threats and lots of action…the hit spy drama returns

Ros is no longer with us. While trying to protect the Home Secretary, Spooks‘ ice-cold section chief, played by Hermione Norris, met her end in an explosion during the final moments of the last series.

Now, BBC1’s hugely popular spy drama is back with boss Harry devistated and the unpredictable Lucas North (Richard Armitage) left to pick up the pieces.

“There’s fallout from the death of Ros; I think Lucas sees the team’s been slightly shattered by it and he feels a responsibility because he was at close quarters with her,” Richard tells us.

“Lucas responds by trying to pull the team together and aiming to be a strong figure for Harry.”

The plot thickens

But there’s little time for the spies tp mourn as they’re thrown straight back into the action in a dramatic opening episode of the new eight-part series.

Lucas boards a ship in Tangier to kill a leading Al Qaeda figure who’s on a deadly terrotist mission. Working with Lucas is Special Boat Service (SBS) agent Dimitri Levendes, who’s undercover as the ship’s captain.

Dimitri, one of the show’s new regulars, is played by Max Brown, whom Foyle’s War fans will know as driver Sam’s boyfriend Adam.

“It’s very different from Foyle,” laughs Max. “I’ve never done anything before where I’m really alpha male, so it’s been great fun.

“The first take I did on Spooks I had a big beaming smile on my face as I ran around carrying a gun!”

As well as Dimitri, Lucas runs into Beth Bailey, an undercover mercenary who’s also tracking the Al Qaeda suspect.

“She meets Lucas and they end up helping each other solve this problem,” explains Sophia Myles, who plays her.

“Beth reconnects with Harry, who she met years ago, at MI5 HQ and asks him for a job.”

Hidden past?

Could Beth be joining Lucas and Dimitri in Harry’s new team? Not if Lucas has anything to do with it!

“Lucas is suspicious of Beth because she’s from the private sector,” explains Sophia, whose TV credits include Marple, Doctor Who and Heartbeat. “She also tries to take the mickey out of Lucas and he doesn’t like that!”

After some gentle interrogation, Sophia reveals that she’s never seen Spooks before she auditioned for the role.

“I sat down to watch a few and I was absolutely terrified,” she grimaces.

“I can never watch them late at night. They stress me out too much. I go to bed with heart palpitations!”

Richard promises that the new series will keep up the show’s tradition of surprising and thrilling viewers. Indeed, he teases there could be some big revelations about his own character.

“We don’t know who Lucas was before he was in a Russian prison,” he says. “I always imagined that things happened to him which he didn’t know about, and wouldn’t know if he was a double agent.

“He’s reminded of things from his past and discovers things that that he never knew about himself.”

Among the figures from his past is former lover Maya (played by Strictly star Laila Rouass). But, who is she really?

Spooks is famous for mirroring the news and Richard reveals the political direction of the series.”

“The Chinese feature quite heavily this year, in terms of their economic power and their growing world positin,” he says.

So, did this mean Chinese lessons for everyone?

“I learned quite a lot of Russian for my first series, but luckily it was Nicola Walker, who played analyst Ruth, who had to learn Mandarin!”

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Agents of Change

from Total TV Guide (UK)

Spooks returns with Section D still reeling from Ros Myers’ death – and unrest and suspicion is rife as new faces join them in their operations.

An industrial estate in Bermondsey, London, is home to The Grid, Spooks‘ fictional hi-tech nerve centre. This is where much of the ninth series of BBC1’s hit MI5 drama is based. On our arrival, Total TVguide is shown to a large white room, which is virtually empty apart from a few tables and chairs…appropriately, it feels like an interrogation chamber.

We are given a tour of the set later, but first we’re in the rather stark space to meet Spooks‘ new cast members, starting with Sophia Myles. She plays Beth Bailey, an undercover mercenary who met Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) years ago and now wants a job at The Grid.

“Beth’s based on a real woman, who I’ve met,” says Sophia, 30. “When she [the real person] was 18 – and studying English at Edinburgh University – she was head-hunted by MI6. She was picked to undergo their fast-track selection process. It’s about two blocks of six months.”

Sophia is not the only newcomer to the show, the latest series will see Iain Glen (The Diary of Anne Frank), stage actor Simon Russell Beale and Primeval‘s Laila Rouass all appear. Max Brown, who played Sam Grey in Mistresses, also takes on a major role as Special Boat Service (SBS) member Dimitri Levendis.

“I hadn’t heard of the SBS before,” says Max, 29. “They’re like the SAS, but they work below or on the water, basically. They only do black ops, so they’re always undercover, and the SAS have taken a lot of gold starts for the work they’ve done, apparently.”

Some of the new arrivals cause unrest in Section D, and the MI5 agents wonder who can be trusted as they go about their operations.

This week, the team is still mourning Ros Myers’ death, and Harry is intent on exacting revenge. But the counter-terrorism chief also realises how much MI5 analyst Ruth Evershed (Nicola Walker) means to him and asks her to marry hm.

Elsewhere, Lucas North (Richard Armitage) finds himself on a ship in Tangier, tracking an Al Qaeda operative, along with Dimitri, who’s undercover as the ship’s captain. But they’re hijacked by Somali pirates, and help comes from Beth, who’s posing as an Eastern European prostitute.

By the finale, Lucas receives an unwelcome visit from someone, but this is just one of many shocking revelations about his past…

An Essex port doubled up as Tangier for filming reveals Max. “It’s Tilbury Docks for all the exteriors, filmed through a yellow lens to make it look hotter,” he smiles.

Max admits to being a big fan of Spooks already, but Sophia had never seen it prior to getting the job. “I couldn’t watch it late at night because it would stress me out,” Sophia explains.

So what drew her to the role? “I’d been in LA for two years, working on a TV show for Warner Bros [vampire drama Moonlight]. The homesickness I experienced was so painful I was absolutely desperate to come back to London. So I prayed for an acting job that would allow me to sleep in my own bed, and my wish came true, thankfully.”

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Interview Extra: Sophia Myles

from TV Choice Magazine / by David Collins

Sophia Myles plays Beth Bailey, a new agent in the returning BBC1 spy drama Spooks. Here, she tells us more about her character, and reflects on how her time in Hollywood inspired her to take a year off to go backpacking.

Is your character based on a real-life person?
Yes, and in her youth, she was a rebel — she’d been expelled from a couple of private schools. So after she completed the MI6 course, she decided she didn’t want to work in such a heavily regulated bureaucracy. Instead of working for Her Majesty’s Government, she decided to pursue a private area of investigation. So she went first to Columbia, but the majority of her career was in the Middle East, and by the age of 27, she was a shareholder in a private company worth just over

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Speaking to Spooks

from TV Choice – Blog (UK) / by Helen Childs

Of all the places to spend an afternoon in London, Bermondsey wouldn’t normally be top of my list. Sorry people of Bermondsey but you know, Regents Park it’s not! But the unassuming locale is home to the set of Spooks – Kudos production’s super slick spy show – so that’s where I’m sent to interview the cast and take a tour around The Grid.

After hooking up with the press officer and some fellow journos, we’re taken to a deserted room – furnished only with a table and some chairs – where the interviews will take place. We’re offered tea in plastic cups (oh the glamour!) and look forward to turning the tables on the TV interrogators.

First up is Section D’s newest recruit Beth – aka actress Sophia Myles. Sophia is stunningly beautiful in a Kate Winslet kind of way and impressively articulate as she talks us through her character’s story. Beth is based on a real life spy, who Sophia has met and who she reveals is on the other end of the phone whenever the actress needs some advice. Having spent a few years working in LA Sophia tells us she jumped at the chance of a job working back home in London. ‘I missed corner shops!’ she admits. She only had one stipulation before signing up – that directors don’t make her do running scenes in high heels!

Though the rest of the female writers back at the office are fully signed up members of the Richard Armitage appreciation society, I confess I couldn’t see what the fuss was about. Until I met him that is – those piercing blue eyes! Those arms! That run-your-fingers-through-it hair! (if only). The actor is also charm personified as he reveals there are big surprises in store for his character Lucas North when the show returns to our screens this autumn. Unfortunately the confidentiality agreement the press officer has made us all sign means we can’t blab just yet. But we can say it’s going to be big and we will have full details in our mag at the time…

Another newbie is next up for interview – Max Brown (who you may remember as Sam in Mistresses) joins the cast as spy and piracy expert Dimitri Levendis. Yes that does sound a bit Greek, and plucky Max learnt the language for his role, though he reveals the phrases he mastered wouldn’t be much use on holiday. Yes, we can’t imagine stuff like, ‘Hands in the air or I’ll shoot’ would go down too well in Ayia Napa… Max tells us Dimitri will fit into the team by flirting his way around it – with women and men alike! As his eyes twinkle at the assembled journos, we’re sure he’ll make a good job of it.

Finally it’s time to grill the boss man Harry – actor Peter Firth – and his colleague and will/they won’t they? love interest Ruth – actress Nicola Walker. For this we are led on set, into The Grid itself! While we hate to shatter any illusions, it does look disappointingly like any other office. Not that dissimilar to the TV Choice office in fact. Still – it’s The Grid! Unfortunately it’s now the end of the day and the lighting crew need to de-rig the room so after a very brief look round, we have to go back to our own makeshift interrogation room downstairs. Peter is super-friendly, shaking everyone’s hand and Nicola is lovely too. Both are excited about what’s in store for their alter-egos – again, we’re gagged from revealing too much at this point – but trust us, you’ll want to tune in…!