Thursday, September 21, 2006

Spooks Plot Was a Real Coup

Spooks is one of my favourite programmes so I was really looking forward to the new series. However, greater love hath no man than he lay down his Spooks for the LibDem Conference. So I only got around to watching it last night. Was it worth the wait? You bet.

The two episodes were about a coup attempt by renegade secret service agents, a media mogul and the Cabinet Secretary. The bit I loved came during a fake News 24 news bulletin when BLOGGERS LEAD PROTESTS was on the strapline at the bottom of the News 24 screen. They then showed Mi5 officers watching a. series of impassioned pleas by bloggers for people to rise up against the coup. Sadly, Guido and Recess Monkey were nowhere to be seen. Already under house arrest as dangerous subversives I expect.

The plot was so convincing that I started thinking of the circumstances in which the fictional events portrayed in the programme could become reality. Democracy is a very fragile thing. Who was it who said something like 'dictators rely on good men remaining silent'?

The only bit which jarred was when the Cabinet Secretary blurted out: "I'm only a bloody politician, you know." Er, no actually, he' a civil servant. But then again, nowadays...


dizzy said...

Can i write spoilers for next weeks?

Richard Bailey said...

Fun to a point, Iain. Sadly neither the producers nor the bbc have the slightest interest in subtlety or nuance. So for 'PM's son' substitute 'Euan', for 'coup plotters' substitute 'Conservative establishment'. Christ, one of them was even a Chris Patten lookalike.
I wwas genuinely waiting for TB to make a cameo appearance.
This was the BBC at its most dangerous and insidious best.

Anonymous said...

Talking of plots and spooks, was anybody suprised by the apperance of Abu Izzadeen at John Reid's speech yesterday. Izzadeen's a member of a banned muslim group, and a known troublemaker. He's been investigated before. Yet his appearance at the speech yesterday must have been vetted by the police/MI5 spooks. So why did they let him in?

Was he let in as a patsy, so that he would kick up a fuss and make John Reid look justified in being hardline? Surely not.

Anonymous said...

'All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men remain silent'.

The question, of course, is how many 'good men' are there in politics?

Any nominations?

Vlad the Impala said...

As the democratic deficit in the UK becomes more like the Grand Canyon in depth and spread, it needs more than a few good men to remedy it. Blogging has highlighted a similar chasm between real events and reporting but it is just a start. All those old saws about accountability and transparency are being espoused by politicians with a vested interest in ensuring neither. It would be nice to see the Conservatives be more vigorous in defense of our democratic rights. Otherwise, the political debate risks being skewed by issues that obscure the fundamental attack on what should constitute liberty in a free society. And that's given that much of what passes for debate is actually shaped by some world-class news management (would that the government applied a similar level of straightforward management skills to actually doing the job they are meant to be in office to achieve).

Ian, you'd look great in stripes.....and have a lot of company.


Oh I also love Spooks. Much better than the failed attempt to revive CI5 few years ago.

Anonymous said...

Edmund Burke, the father of conservatism, said it, although he really didn't. See here. This is a classic example of a non-quotation, another being Voltaire's "I disagree with everything you say but would fight to the death for your right to say it."

Joe Otten said...

Quite agree Iain. Although it was perhaps a little harder to suspend disbelief than usual. Previous episodes about Diana, or US-funded agents provocateurs were at the right level. For the new series they have tried to up the ante and maybe overdone it.

Personally, I think they saw V for Vendetta and decided to copy it.

Anonymous said...

The only bit that jarred! While I’m a big fan of the program it should only be classed as ‘light’ entertainment given it’s passing acquaintance with reality. Spooks seems to pick up every conspiracy theory going on the intelligence services which does make for some enjoyable TV but please never think it’s realistic!

I also second Richard Bailey’s comments. This was a very unsubtle pop by the BBC at the labour party reaction to the London bomb attacks.

Benedict White said...

Iain, you are right it was fantastic. I particularly liked Jo playing the dizzy blonde whilst the PM's son was being kidnapped in order to lure one of the kidnappers away.

Yes democracy is very fragile, which is why some of these anti terror laws terrify me.

Owen Blacker said...

Definitely one of the best drama series on TV. I'm a little surprised at people saying they found it more difficult to suspend disbelief, though.

I'd definitely agree with Richard Bailey that it wasn't very subtle — my flatmate and I decided the newspaper man must be Rothermere, as we were certainly it had to be based on someone real, as everyone else seemed to be, particularly the cameo from the woman meant to be Shami Chakrabarti.

I found it pretty convincing a scenario, though. Granted, my politics are the opposite of most people here (I think Labour are far too right wing ;o) but I thought the premise was a pretty accurate summary of how I (as a whining liberal leftie type) could most easily see democracy dying here in the UK.

I guess that just means the scriptwriters must be the same kind of whining liberal lefties as I am *GRIN*

Anonymous said...

" "I'm only a bloody politician, you know." Er, no actually, he' a civil servant. But then again, nowadays... "

This is the BBC... ;-)

Joe Otten said...

Owen, re disbelief.

Contrasting with V for Vendetta - there the villains are politicians grabbing dicatorial power. In spooks the villains are officials, and the offscreen PM is so weak he is about to simply hand power over to them. I find that harder to believe.

Take note, I suppose, if a PM should ever look that weak, the party should replace him - or her.

Anonymous said...

Who was it who said something like 'dictators rely on good men remaining silent'?

I think this might be the quote you referred to:

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent" -- Thomas Jefferson

Anonymous said...

Who let him in ? well on the clip I say, there was what looked like a traffic warden and a policeman who looked about 4ft 6ins including his helmet removing said member of banned group. The close protection squad must have been seconded to traffic for the day, as traffic seem to have acquired a dazzling array of new electonic stuff that spooks would die for.

Kerron said...

I still don't think we had adequate revenge for the death of Colin, but hey ho, life goes on...well, not for Colin.

I do have to agree that that was a frighteningly realistic lookalike of Chris Patten! :-)

Anonymous said...

Spooks is meant to be one step beyond reality - and this episode really did only take it one step beyond. Apart from some clumsiness ('Rowan' in place of 'Euan') it was a top episode.

I just wonder how many of the viewers realised how close it was to what could happen. The idea if a temporary detention order - surely this was an extended version of current anti-terror detention (the sort of extension the current Government wanted, incidentally). And ministers making law - this is just what is in the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. Or under the existing Civil Contingencies Act - any minister can declare a state of emergency (including whips, and then may pass "Emergency regulations [to] make provision of any kind that could be made by Act of Parliament or by the exercise of the Royal Prerogative" (@22.3)

Spooks was a great plot, but I felt very uncomfortable watching it - it all seemed a little to close to reality.

Madame Mao said...

What people have failed to comment on is that in the 1970s talk of private armies and getting the right sort of chaps back in charge was rife.

Back then I'm sure it would have been bungled with hilarious consequences in a BBC sitcom rather than getting tied up in a bloody war in the middle east.

The Daily Pundit said...

It all seemed a bit far fetched to me. As far fetched as the extremist Muslim who gatecrashed John Reid’s speech yesterday being a New Labour patsy. He’s actually an MI5 operative. David Shayler used to play squash with him.

wonkotsane said...

The best episode ever and worryingly realistic.

Jock Coats said...

Forget the seventies. I distinctly remember one or two suggestions in places like the Sun before the 92 General Election I think it was (or 87?) that it was possible that if Labour got in there would be a coup.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Spooks is that it takes on issues that the present Avengers/Professionals style format is too flimsy to handle. It was not always the case. The first series brought the plot down to a very real human level. I remember the scene when Matthew Mcfadayen had to watch as his wife and daughter were blown up. He was an interesting character who developed. Now all they do is run around looking butch.

Its slick and there must be a huge budget but there is too much explantory dialogue, avoidance of any real characters that do not conform to the pc agenda and a lot of mirror flicking to suspend any shred of disbelief.

My only point of connection with the plot was when Duckface got blown up, and that was because I fancy Anna Chancellor.

Star spangled schlock from the glop-hopper. 3/10

Neil Reddin said...

It did send me off on a bit of a constitutional tangent - i.e. how far would any such "plot" have to go, in real life, before the Queen stepped in? She is supposed to be the final constitutional backstop after all.

But then we can't expect the anti-monarchist BBC to factor that in can we?

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Nobody punches Shami Chakrabarti. She is little and cute.

The Dastards

have even done a song about her.

I turn on my TV:
The only one I want to see
is Shami Chakrabarti.

Speaking with such bravery;
No-one else would dare to be
Shami Chakrabarti.

She should be running the country
At the head of her party:
Shami Chakrabarti.

She should be running the country
At the head of her party:
Shami Chakrabarti.

She's a fighter for liberty,
For kindness and decency.
She champions dignity;
Defending humanity.

I'm not getting paranoid
But human rights have been destroyed.
It's government by tabloid
And justice by androids.

So, Mr "in like flynn" - If Chakrabati gets it, your crib will look like a claret tasting convention with mass spillages.

Average guy on the street said...

Spooks rules! This week's episode was really good but far too close for comfort. These things really could happen in the current political climate.

Anonymous said...

Er, wasn't the point that MI5 could manipulate bloggers to do their bidding.

Anonymous said...

It was that god that I watched the first episode and read a Rebus for the second.

Anonymous said...


I found the whole damn thing totally unconvincing.

I am surprised you were taken in by such twaddle.