Lockdown TV Review: Spooks Series 1

I had already started a rewatch of Spooks earlier this year as part of a planned Nicola Walker retrospective but as it turns out, I’ll have to use that Britbox subscription for something else!

“When will you tell her that your real name is Tom Quinn and that you are a spy”

It is interesting to look at back at much-loved shows and be reminded of how not everything is always how you remember. So much of Spooks has aged remarkably well – not least its choice of subjects that have remained terrifyingly evergreen – that it is easy to forget that this opening season of 6 episodes sees them still searching for that house style. 

It is undoubtedly a bit shonky in look and feel, the slick Thames House set isn’t yet in place and the focus on the lead team at the expense of too many nameless supporting bods gives the personal dynamics a somewhat off-balance feel as we delve into too much of the personal lives of Tom, Zoe and Danny.

But airing in May 2002 in the immediate post 9/11 climate gives its geopolitics real currency. And the threats they face – homegrown far-right movements, fears over immigration, the push for Kurdish self-government, US abortion rights, Russian spies being murdered on British soil… – are compelling throughout. And any show that has Jenny Agutter and Nicholas Farrell dry-humping in a corridor has to be a winner right?!   

Nicola Walker-ometer
To be honest, I’d forgotten Ruth wasn’t a member of the team from the start, so these six episodes pass by with an outrageous lack of Nicola Walker. Continue reading “Lockdown TV Review: Spooks Series 1”

Review: Eye of a Needle, Southwark Playhouse

“I am black, I am gay, do you think these people want me in their country?”

For all that it is one of the most provocative of hot-button topics, the workings of the current UK immigration system remains a mystery to many and so there is a fascination to Chris MacDonald’s debut play which if anywhere near the truth, indicates it must be one of the most harrowing places to work. Eye of the Needle shows us the world of an Immigration Detention Centre through the eyes of not-quite-a-newcomer Laurence, a junior caseworker struggling to keep himself detached from the work.

Initially, he’s more interested in funding a nightlife in Dalston’s finest watering holes, regularly rocking up to work with a hangover and barely stifling giggles as he asks gay asylum seekers the ridiculous requirement to provide some sort of proof of their sexuality. An early scene does find the humour here but the laughter is soon cut off as a big case lands on his desk, that of Ugandan gay rights activist Natale, and finally the gravity of his position within the UKBA, and the power he wields over the lives of his caseload, begins to sink in. Continue reading “Review: Eye of a Needle, Southwark Playhouse”