British TV Night on the ABC

Filed under : Chat Show, Comedy, Drama, TV

ABC Home of British TV Shows

Saturday night on ABC1 is a great night for fans of British TV. After the repeats of New Tricks, there are two great British dramas followed by a fun chat show.

Spooks – Final Season

The 10th and final season of the British spy drama Spooks (known as MI-5 in the U.S.) is well into it’s run on the ABC. This has consistently been one of the best dramas on television, in fact one of the best shows of any kind. The stories have been engaging and believable, sitting just on the edge of what is really happening in international relations. The cast have been magnificent and unusually for a leading series they have never been afraid to kill off lead characters, they actually made a habit of it.


Sir Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) Adam Carter (Rupert Penry-Jones ) and Ros Myers (Hermione Norris) in Spooks

The one constant is Sir Harry Pearce, played by Peter Firth, as leader of section D of MI5. He is totally believable as the stiff upper lip type of spy that probably haunts the halls of Thames House in central London, or The Grid as it is referred to in the series.

Rupert Penry-Jones had a 4 year run as Adam Carter, Section Chief and one of the lead action spies. He was killed off while saving London from a car bomb, by driving it to an open space with no regard for his own safety.

Tom Quinn

Tom Quinn played by Matthew Macfadyen in the first two series of Spooks

Matthew Macfadyen fulfilled that the same position as Tom Quinn in the first two series. He escaped with his life after struggling with the morality of his role and was decommissioned as a result of sabotaging an operation.

After Adam Carter‘s death, section D had its first female Chief, Ros Myers, played by Hermione Norris, who was probably previously most well known for her role in the series Cold Feet, but she has appeared in numerous British TV series. Ros died in a hotel explosion while trying to rescue the Pakistani President and the British Home Secretary. Previously Ros had killed one of her own colleagues Jo Portman played by Miranda Raison. Ros had to shoot a terrorist who was about to explode a bomb. But Jo was holding on to the terrorist and the bullet passed through him and killed her too.

Lucas North Jo portman

Lucas North (Richard Armitage) and Jo Portman (Miranda Raison)

Lucas North, played by Richard Armitage, replaced Ros Myers as Section Chief. He had been Section Chief before, but was then captured by the Russians and spent 8 years in a Russian jail. He was the main character in series 7, 8 and 9 of Spooks, but North’s loyalties were always in doubt, no one was absolutely sure if he had not been turned by the Russians. Typically of Spooks there was a twist that no one would have thought of. In series 9 it is revealed Lucas North is in fact John Bateman a former international drug dealer and had once blown up the British Embassy in Dakar killing 17 people. North goes rogue in the 9th series kidnapping his colleagues, giving away what he believed to be dangerous information and finally threatening to kill Harry Pearce. But instead he kills himself by throwing himself off of a building.

Ruth Evershed and Malcolm Wynn-Jones

Ruth Evershed (Nicola Walker) and Malcolm Wynn-Jones (Hugh Simon)

All of the background characters who have appeared in Spooks have been well written, well acted and very believable. Hugh Simon played the role of Malcolm Wynn-Jones, the team techie, for 8 years, breaking codes and into all sorts of computer equipment. Ruth Evershed played by Nicola Walker was Sir Harry’s ever reliable Senior Intelligence Analyst and “love interest”. There are many others too numerous to mention.

Series 10 sees a whole new team in place, with a new female Section Chief, Erin Watts played by Lara Pulver. Ruth Evershed moves on to become advisor to the Home Secretary and the British are looking to throw their lot in with the Russians and the CIA seems to be the enemy. There is talk of Sir Harry Pearce resigning his commission.

As well as series 10 running on Saturday nights, series 7 is being repeated on Mondays. All of the series have been well worth watching and if you haven’t caught them I would recommend picking them up on DVD or a download.

CLICK HERE to download episodes or entire series of Spooks from iTunes

Strike Back

Strike Back follows Spooks on Saturday night and stars former Spook Richard Armitage as a disgraced ex SAS soldier John Porter. Porter was dismissed from the unit for failing to kill a young Iraqi terrorist, who it was believed then killed two of his colleagues.

John Porter and Hugh Collinson

John Porter (Richard Armitage) and Hugh Collinson (Andrew Lincoln) in Strike Back

Porter finds his way back into the service via an MI6 section now headed by one of his former comrades in arms on that mission. He goes back to Iraq to rescue a captured journalist and daughter of a British Minister. While on the rescue mission it is revealed to him that his colleagues were not killed by the young Iraqi but by a British soldier. All evidence points to his new boss Hugh Collinson, played by Andrew Lincoln. The tension between them is palpable.

The series is all action and was very well received in the UK and the second series garnered American investment. Another one to look out for.

CLICK HERE to download episodes or entire series of Strike Back from iTunes

The Jonathan Ross Show

Saturday night’s trifecta of British shows is rounded out by the Jonathan Ross chat show. Jonathan Ross, or Woss as his imitators call him, as he can not pronounce R’s correctly, has been presenting chat shows in the UK since the 80’s. Initially he was accused, with some justification, of ripping off David Letterman’s format. However I always found Ross’s shows funnier than Letterman’s.

Rihanna and Jonathan Ross

Jonathan Ross with Rihanna as a desk ornament

His latest show is no exception and does not suffer from him having moved away from the BBC where he spent the previous 13 years. Ross’s irreverent humour combined with a mostly A list of guests ensures that the show is always good value.

The format differs slightly from many chat shows in that, while he interviews only one guest (or combination of guests in the instances of recognised groups) at a time, he has a large monitor screen on set attached to a camera in the green room and he regularly calls to and involves guests who are yet to be, or already have been, interviewed.

Unfortunately I believe the series came to an end last week, but look out for its return if you haven’t caught up with Mr. Ross, or even if you have.

CLICK HERE to download Why Do I Say These Things? by Jonathan Ross

By Max Power

FYI Spooks was called MI-5 in the USA and there are two versions of Strike Back. There’s an American version as well as the original British show.


One Response to “British TV Night on the ABC”

  • British Crime Drama 2 | Oz TV Reviews — April 1, 2015 @ 11:48 pm

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