Spooks (Interview for Season 2 with Macfadyen and Hawes) (April 2003)
Spook's returned to BBC1 in June 2003, here we looked at what was in store in season two as well as interviewing the cast.
The stakes are raised in the new series of the award-winning Spooks, as the threat to national security increases and the need to thwart the activities of terrorists operating within the UK becomes more urgent. Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) and the team find themselves at the heart of the action and must deal with the psychological fall-out of leading such dangerous double-lives. Matthew Macfadyen, Keeley Hawes, David Oyelowo and Peter Firth all return, with Natasha Little also joining the Spooks cast. Spooks, which has just won a Bafta Award for Best Drama Series, gets off to an explosive start in the new series, which picks up at the exact moment when the first series finished. Tom's girlfriend, Ellie, and her young daughter are trapped inside a securely sealed house in which a bomb is about to explode and there?s no way out. Executive producer Jane Featherstone says: "We discovered with the first series that Spooks can tell stories that no other long-running British TV drama can.There were times when we found our fiction blending imperceptibly with the news. One episode, for example, was about race issues and, at the time it was broadcast,The 10 O'Clock News followed with a story about race riots.There were a number of times when items in the news seemed frighteningly to mirror what had just happened on the screen."
Simon Crawford Collins, producer of Spooks, agrees: "This new, longer series runs for 10 episodes and builds on that sense of topicality as threats to national security have never been greater and our team of spies has to match the growing sophistication of an often unseen enemy." "In the current political climate, never have people been more aware of the risk of torrorist threats," says writer David Wolstencroft. "Sadly, it is at the back of all our minds that what happened in the United States on September 11, 2001 could be repeated in some way. For this reason, the role of MI5 is becoming increasingly significant. "I think that everybody is informed these days about the threats, everybody knows what could happen and they're much more aware of world events."
Forthcoming Spooks storylines include a visit by the US president, a war criminal on the run, a computer security breach at MI5, a poisonous gas explosion in the centre of London and a potential mutiny in the British Army. The Section B team, which includes Harry (Peter Firth),Tom (Matthew Macfadyen), Zoe (Keeley Hawes) and Danny (David Oyelowo), will certainly have their work cut out. A newcomer to the team is Sam Buxton (Shauna Macdonald, Late Night Shopping), who is keen to make a good impression and joins Zoe undercover on a surveillance operation to discover who is behind a nationwide bombing campaign. Other new characters include: intelligence analyst Ruth Evershed (Nicola Walker, Touching Evil) and Carlo (Enzo Cilenti), who takes a fancy to Zoe. Also returning in a bigger role is Christine Dale of the CIA (Megan Dodds).
For Wolstencroft, working on Spooks is a dream come true. "I absolutely love making things up for a living. That's where the fun of it is for me! I grew up in America watching things like Hill Street Blues, St Elsewhere and Moonlighting. Then I moved to England and the one thing that really blew me away was watching Edge Of Darkness, which was just inspirational and I remember thinking that I would love to write something like that. "I didn't really think that I had the confidence to do it, but then I wrote Psychos for Ch4. With Spooks, I really wanted to break the speed limit and to learn a lesson from the Americans in terms of the pace of the scripts." Featherstone agrees: "I think the strengths of Spooks are that it is fast, dynamic and pacy. It?s an intelligent action series which deals with big subjects." The first series of Spooks was broadcast in May and June 2002 on BBC One. It was a big hit with viewers, reaching an average audience of 7.6 million. Reviews of the series included: "Terrific entertainment, and a quality drama at the high end of the mainstream." (Sunday Times) In the 2002 Broadcast Awards, Spooks won Best Drama Series and was nominated for Best New Programme. It was also nominated for an RTS Award for Best Drama Series.
Spooks is a Kudos production for BBC One and filmed in London and at Pinewood Studios.The writers are series creator David Wolstencroft, Howard Brenton, Matthew Graham, Simon Mirren, Ben Richards and Steve Bailie. The producer is Simon Crawford Collins and the executive producers are Jane Featherstone (Head of Drama at Kudos) and Gareth Neame (BBC's Head of Drama Commissioning). Episode two of the new series of Spooks will premi?re on BBC Three immediately after the first episode is broadcast on BBC One. Subsequent episodes willthen also premi?re on BBC Three. In a unique deal with the A&E Network in the US, Spooks will also be screened on the other side of the Atlantic. Renamed MI5, series one and two will air on A&E in summer 2003.
Matthew Macfadyen plays Tom Quinn
The success of the first series of Spooks was something of a surprise to Matthew Macfadyen. "I thought it was a good show when we were making it but you can never really tell. I was thrilled when the producers called me to tell me how well it had done." There was a downside, however. "They put huge billboards up to promote the series and the strange thing was, there was one right outside my flat! I would walk out of my front door and think to myself, 'Oh, there I am!' which wasthe weirdest thing. But then, after a while, it became strangely normal to see my face staring back at me every day!"
Macfadyen clearly enjoys playing Tom Quinn, the senior case officer at MI5 who finds himself at the heart of the action. "Part of the fun of being an actor is to explore those parts in you that you wouldn?t normally be able to do," says Macfadyen. "I think I?ve influenced Tom and he has also influenced me. Tom?s quite a serious character and concentrates on his job, sometimes at the expense of other areas of his life. He has difficulty when his work spills into his personal life, and he finds it hard to keep things secret."
The new series starts where the first series ended. Tom has moved in with his girlfriend, Ellie (Esther Hall) and her young daughter, Maisie (Heather Cave). "Tom has inadvertently taken a laptop computer home and then he gets a call from an Irish terrorist who tells him that there are explosives in the laptop," explains Macfadyen."Tom is outside the house and Ellie and Maisie are inside but because of the extra security measures on the house he can?t get in and they can?t get out ? and that?s where we left them."
Tom is much colder and harder in the new series and one episode in particular proved a greater challenge than most. "Tom and the team walk into the grid for an ordinary day at work when they are faced with what?s called an Extreme Emergency Response Initiative Exercise (EERIE).They are informed that a dirty bomb has exploded outside Westminster, and they have to decide how to deal with it," says Macfadyen. "It was very exciting filming that episode, which was brilliantly written by Howard Brenton.The team are doing everything by the book but, as the episode unfolds, they become unsure whether it is an exercise or not.The whole episode was shot entirely on the grid, no one can leave and no one can enter. It was also shot in sequence which was fantastic ? you almost never get to do that in television. And I finally get to use a gun, so I was thrilled! I love all the physical stuff where you get to charge around." He continues: "In that episode, even more than any of the others, it is vital that the team can trust each other to get through. I think Tom gets on with everyone in the team, but particularly Zoe and Danny, who he really likes and trusts. He?s their boss and he does play the ?boss card? when he has to. He also looks out for them in quite a paternal way when he?s not that much older than them. "We?ve also got some new characters joining the team this series.There?s Ruth [Nicola Walker] who is an intelligence analyst and has been seconded to MI5 from GCHQ.And there?s a new recruit, Sam [Shauna Macdonald], who?s just out of the academy and is really keen to be thrown in at the deep end."
For Macfadyen, who is enjoying an off-screen romance with co-star Keeley Hawes, acting was a childhood dream."I did lots of plays when I was at school and being on stage was when I felt happiest. I found it incredibly exciting and so I auditioned for all the school plays. I was certain that this was what I wanted to do and never really considered anything else. I was very fortunate to get into RADA and had a really good three years there. Acting still doesn?t feel like a proper job sometimes ? I get paid to do something I love which makes me feel very lucky."
Macfadyen's first big break was in the theatre, where he spent three years at the RSC and Royal National Theatre. Then came his first television role in Peter Kosminsky?s acclaimed BBC One drama, Warriors, followed by well-chosen roles in Stephen Poliakoff?s Perfect Strangers, The Way We Live Now and The Project.
Keeley Hawes plays Zoe Reynolds
For Keeley Hawes, the hardest thing about playing feisty MI5 officer Zoe Reynolds is the language. "The dialogue is a real challenge," explains Hawes. "Some of the jargon that the characters use, I don?t even understand. A lot of it is like reading the news because it?s all facts and figures and names. Some of the time you have no idea what you?re actually talking about, it?s just a matter of remembering it all and then getting it in the right order."
That wasn't the only challenge for the 26-year-old actress: there?s also the difficulty of remembering several different aliases from one day to the next. "In one episode, Zoe goes undercover as a teacher in a school," says Hawes. "So, for her day job she?s Jane, an English teacher. Then in her private life at the same time, she?s pretending to be Emma, a legal secretary, to her new boyfriend, Carlo, and when she actually does go to work, she?s Zoe Reynolds, MI5 Officer. It?s all very confusing!"
As if that wasn?t bad enough, Hawes also found the prospect of standing up in front of a classroom full of teenagers a terrifying experience. "It was a nightmare! I certainly have a new-found respect for teachers. You have no idea what it?s like and I wasn?t really teaching them. I think it must be an incredible thing to be able to do."
In the new series, viewers see more of Zoe's personal life. "In the first series she had this will they/won't they thing going on with Danny and nothing happened in the end. But in this series, Zoe does have a bit of romance. She meets this Italian stallion called Carlo and she does some quite unexpected things, like running off to hotel rooms in the middle of the day!" Zoe has seen the problems that Tom faced when his job got in the way of his personal life and is anxious not to make the same mistakes. "I think she is a bit wary of romance. I think it's hard enough for anyone who's single to meet someone but, when you do what Tom and Zoe do for a living, then it's especially difficult ? you can be called out anywhere at anytime. They don?t have much of a social life really apart from with each other. The easiest way sometimes is if they date each other, which is what Zoe tells Danny when he fancies Sam."
Unlike Zoe, who has always wanted to be an MI5 officer, Hawes had no ambitions to be an actress when she was younger. "I think acting chose me, actually," she says. "The Sylvia Young Theatre School moved opposite the house where I grew up and I would hear them all singing and I remember saying to my mum how good it sounded. I don?t think I had any ambitions to be an actress at that age but I went along and I had a great time. "After that, I modelled for a year after being spotted on Oxford Street. I never really enjoyed modelling so I was glad to give it up when I got a part in Dennis Potter?s Karaoke. I was very lucky really."
Since then, Hawes, who is currently dating co-star Matthew Macfadyen, has gone from strength to strength with roles in Our Mutual Friend for BBC One, A Is For Acid alongside Martin Clunes and more recently starring alongside Stephen Tompkinson in Kingsley Amis?s Lucky Jim.