Spooks: Code 9
(working titles - Rogue Spooks
and Spooks: Liberty
) is a spin-off series of the BBC
television show Spooks
, commissioned by the BBC to attract a younger audience than Spooks
on a lower budget. It is about a group of six new young MI5 recruits who "follow a different rule book". It is produced by the independent production company Kudos
. It was filmed in and around Leeds
, and the first two episodes were broadcast on BBC Three on 10 August 2008 and repeated on the same channel on 11 August 2008.
The series begins in 2013 (just after the 2012 Summer Olympics
), when London
and some of the south east has been evacuated in the wake of a nuclear attack during the opening ceremony of the Games. The government has relocated to Manchester
; Thames House has been decommissioned, and MI5
is forced to set up offices across the UK in an attempt to help Britain avoid new attacks.
- Charlie Green (Liam Boyle) - an ex-mathematician who leads the team on an interim basis after the assassination of Hannah in the first episode. He gained the job after he stood up to Field Operations Director Sarah Yates (Lorraine Burroughs).
- Rachel Harris (Ruta Gedmintas) - a former Police Officer.
- Vik Kamath (Christopher Simpson) - an entrepreneur.
- Kylie Roman (Georgia Moffett) - a former Psychology student.
- Rob Sullivan (Andrew Knott) - formerly a doctor, and now the team medic.
- Jez Cook (Heshima Thompson) - a reformed criminal.
- Sarah Yates (Lorraine Burroughs) - Formerly Head of Operations for MI5
- Saeed Khan (Parvez Qadir) - Director-General of MI5
The series was heavily promoted across the BBC channels and through conventional outdoor marketing. As one of BBC Three's multi-platform programmes, there was also a heavy digital element, including streaming the programme live on the site simultaneously with its TV broadcast.
An experiential site called Facespook was launched in July 2008, which uses flash-based face-mapping to add 'you' into the video action. The story branches depending on choices you make.
Further interaction was through the extended reality site Liberty News, a news site from 2013. Offering relevant news stories associated with the episodes, the site was updated live during the programme with stories related to the on-screen action; the site encouraged role-play as though you were part of the in-series world to explore the issues raised. Following the last episode of the series, the site ran a live chat with characters representing various organsations relevant to the storylines. During this chat, the site was raided and the news organisation 'closed down'
The first series of Spooks Code 9 consists of six episodes. The series began on 10 August 2008. Episode 1
- A new age of terrorists threatens Her Majesty's Secret Service, leading the government to recruit younger members into MI5. The team plan to foil an assassination plot against the Prime Minster, however they only have 5½ hours to find the killer and stop him. Written by David Wolstencroft. Episode 2
- Protesters hack into the government's emergency communications system and broadcast a video of dead inmates at a prison. Written by Howard Overman. Episode 3
- Jez and Kylie go undercover on a housing estate to investigate a source of fake radiation drugs, but the killing of a police officer puts the pair in grave danger. Written by Ben Schiffer. Episode 4
- The murder of two MI5 informants reveals a leak at a government Missing Person's scheme. Written by Tony Basgallop and James Moran. Episode 5
- A bank heist by eco terrorists, involving a 16-year-old suicide bomber, leads the team to uncover a secret deal between the British government and a Korean billionaire. Will the team be able to free the hostages and stop the terrorists from completing their deadly mission? Charlie speaks to the British scientist wrongly imprisoned for the London attack and discovers there may be a second nuclear bomb. Episode 6
- With the anniversary of the London attack imminent and the knowledge there may be a second nuclear device still out there, Charlie and the team have 24 hours to locate the bomb and identify the MI5 traitor before another major national catastrophe is allowed to happen. The episode ends in a cliffhanger, with the ticking bomb heard in the background and Rachel dying on the floor after being shot by Yates.
The first episode of the series had (estimated) 810,000 viewers for a multichannel share of 3.8%, with the second episode (broadcast immediately after the first) having 703,000 viewers and 4.0% share. The third episode (broadcast a week later) attracted 447,000 viewers and 2.1% multichannel share, having "lost nearly half of its audience last night, 17 August, compared with last Sunday's launch. The fourth episode, broadcast on 24 August, attracted 288,000 viewers and 1.4% multichannel share, the fifth (31 August) having 353,000 viewers, and the sixth (7 September) only 245,000.
Andrew Billen, reviewer for The Times
, was mainly critical — he stated that the series "fancies itself as gritty and hip" and that it was "to Spooks
is to Doctor Who
(ie, not as good)", adding criticism of what he saw as its low budget, its combination of "state torture with a boozy, flirty This Life
house-share", and its failure of nerve in not fully linking the attack "with either the Olympics or al-Qaeda". Roland White in The Sunday Times
concluded "The script is poor and the acting little better. It's like watching recent graduates takes their first management-training exercise.
The Guardian described it as "a spin-off too far", with "clunky, lazy writing" and "patronising awfulness", "ropey indeed.... an utterly cynical venture and a damning indictment of the lack of imagination at work in commissioning new drama.
A preliminary piece in The Daily Telegraph wondered if the series could avoid accusations of trying to cash in on Spooks despite being "a spin-off with almost nothing in common with its namesake", whilst other reviews in the same paper called the general scenario "daft and unconvincing" and too ludicrous to work as well as similar spin-offs. Though the Telegraph did find some praise for the "surprising twist" in the first episode, it lampooned the nuclear attack for having seemingly "killed everyone over the age of 40" and left MI5 "staffed purely by the young and good-looking", comparing the series' youthful cast with that of Skins.
A review of the first episode by website Digital Spy panned the show, finding it, "utterly uninspired and stale", "shambolically written", "patronising", and "amateurish". The second episode "is certainly an improvement on the dire opener, although that's hardly a compliment." But "the entire show comes across as one of those school teachers who tries desperately to be trendy and get down wiv da kidz" and "has yet to show ...that it can transcend its current status as a piece of condescending, uninvolving tripe.