John Le Carre for the internet generation, Spooks is a smart combination of TV cop show and George Smiley-esque espionage shenanigans that pulls no punches in its depiction of an MI5 team fighting a covert war on the streets of London. This is adult, post-watershed drama clearly inspired by the hard-hitting reality style of US shows such as 24 and The Sopranos. The strong ensemble cast is led by charismatic Matthew MacFadyen as Tom Quinn, star spy of "Section B", the counter-terrorism branch headed by Harry Pearce (Peter Firth). Keeley Hawes, David Oyelowo and tough-cookie Jenny Agutter make up the team. And as with its British predecessors, Cracker and Prime Suspect, Spooks also delves fearlessly into the characters' turbulent personal lives, here given an added twist by their constant need to deceive even those they love.
The six episodes of the BAFTA Award-winning Series 1 tackle a variety of tough issues, including religious fanaticism, racism, governmental cover-ups and, naturally enough, the lingering shadow of Irish terrorism. Throughout, the show strikes a fine balance between a James Bondian techno-obsession with spy gadgets and more character-based action, with crisp writing and pacey direction that ratchets up the tension a notch further with every episode. The final cliffhanger is an unforgettable TV moment, and one that leaves viewers agog for Series 2.