Monday, January 11, 2010

Spook-y Debriefing

I have recently committed myself to a good amount of research which may or may not involve a lot of BBC programming. Contrary to what some people may call it, it is not an obsession. It's not like I'm watching anything that has a BBC label on it, I'm being selective, limiting my viewing to specific themes and educational programming. One of those themes is Spooks (known here in the US as MI-5)--ok, so that's not a theme so much as it is a series. So great is my dedication to learning and research that I have watched all eight seasons since the week after Christmas in between work, entertaining, cooking and occasionally sleeping. The good news is, tonight I watched the last episode of the last series* (season). I have learned a great deal:

  • According to Spooks, which is produced by the BBC, the BBC is indeed an arm of the British spies' propaganda machine which misinforms people at the whim of the government.
  • This confirms the Iranian's long held claim that the BBC News is unreliable and manipulative.
  • Iranians have a bizarre admiration/paranoia/love/hate relationship with the British. We think that they have a secret hand in every financial, domestic and international event in the world--which is truly admirable for such a tiny little island. I'm pretty sure no one gives more credit to Winston Churchill's intelligence than Iranians, including the Brits themselves. Spooks has taught me that there may be something to that admiration/paranoia.
  • Gas is a big problem in London. Apparently, the gas pipes are so leaky, that every other time that an MI-5 agent wants to come in and inspect your house, evacuate a building or plant a bug, they claim a 'gas leak' and no one every questions them.
  • While they may not directly require it, MI-5 seem to hire an inordinate number of good looking people with exceptionally good orthodontics. Especially for Brits. I'm not sure where they find these gorgeous people who are also very intelligent, strong, ethical and brave but there seems to be a disproportionate number of them in the service of the Queen. For that alone, I envy her. (I also envy her all the jewelery and funny hats, but that kind of goes with the Queen territory.) If you'd like an example of the fine, fine people who join the service, I refer you to Lucas North**.
  • There seem to be CCTVs everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. I'm very curious about the actual cameras. I would like to go to London and investigate. If there really are that many cameras covering the city, I may stand under one and hold up a sign that says, "HI! You all are doing great! I'd like to buy Lucas North a cup of tea."
  • MI-5 agents never tell you their real name. They also blend in with the general population. I fear that if I ever go to England, I won't really beleive anyone's name is what they tell me it is, even if they provide documents. They print that stuff up like it's a Google Map.
  • It seems the Brits are a bit unhappy about the 'special relationship' they have/had with the US. They don't trust us any further than they can throw us. This is a theme throughout the series. But stronger than their suspicions of the US, they seem to truly dislike and distrust the Russians. Not that I blame them, of course. I mean itty bitty England standing up to BIG, GIANT Russia. Plus, British spies get kidnapped and tortured by the Russians. Again, refer to Lucas North who had to have his body covered in tattoos while imprisoned and tortured in Russia. Frankly, seeing what Lucas suffered, I too dislike the Russians.
  • MI-5 loses a lot of good civil servants very tragically. This is heart breaking, except they're quickly replaced. It's truly amazing how there seems to be an endless supply of them.
  • Life as a MI-5 officer is very difficult. They don't seem to have much of a social life, everyone they want to date has to be vetted and they have to maintain a stiffer upper lip than the average Brit. That alone is impressive. I have trembly lips which will forever disqualify me from entering the service of the Queen (I'm also a suspicious American who trips over her own feet and burns herself while getting ready in the morning, but I'm sure it's the upper lip thing that will work against me).
  • Contrary to what you may have heard about London's constant bad weather and rain, it seems to be generally sunny and pleasant there. I feel compelled to go there and investigate.

In short, I have enjoyed Spooks very much and learned a great deal. So much so that I may be interested in going to England and further researching their spooky ways.

*I'm learning to speak British.

**Lucas North (Richard Armitage) may have been the reason I started watching BBC productions. In case you're wondering, I called dibs on him first. Please don't get any ideas.


Ragtag said...

The life of a spook does seem pretty miserable. All that stoic handsome posing.

Richard Armitage certainly does make it look easy

Alex the Odd said...

Fun fact: I was vetted by MI5 once, when my old flatmate applied for a job there.

He didn't get it so my life in the years following wasn't a glamorous whirl of being kidnapped and held for ransom by hugely attractive foreign nationals.

Please never, never, never watch the spin off series, it's godawful.

Also: well done on the BritSpeak. I talk in massively Americanised English when it comes to all things TV and it means that nobody understands me (although I have got my nearest and dearest using the term "season" correctly)

Also, also: Come and explore - it does not always rain - this month it has been snowing! I will give you a tour.

Girl With Curious Hair said...

Alex (if that's your real name), I'm glad you weren't kidnapped and held for ransom. You're pretty glamorous on your own.

I haven't heard of the spin off series until now, and will take care to avoid it.

I really and truly want to come and explore. As in, I feel like I miss a place I've never been to. I don't even want to explore, I just want to be there for a while. I just have to find a way to make it happen and when I do, I will definitely take you up on your offer.