after our own heart

Looking After Our Own (Spooks)

Looking After Our Own is the second episode of the first series of British television series Spooks. It first aired on 20 May 2002 on BBC One.


Attempts to obtain intelligence on believed right-wing leader Robert Osbourne had been unsuccessful. Osbourne's awareness of MI5's interest in him was such that his house was equipped with high-level security equipment that Section B's teams had been unable to penetrate.

Intelligence did learn that Osbourne had a violent temper and his wife, Claire, on the receiving end. Any woman under that pressure was vulnerable for recruitment. A runner was in place, handling two contacts posing as computer tutors at a class at Chadbridge Community College, Romford. Claire Osbourne attended these classes, with the contacts instructed to befriend her. Vetting had not picked up on the runner's alcoholism, and after she had a road traffic accident while over the limit, Harry suggested that Tom step in, and Helen Flynn was recruited to pose as Tom's wife to aid his cover for 'Operation Greensleeves'.

Installed as teachers, Tom and Helen befriended Claire Osbourne. Despite an unfriendly meeting with Claire's husband one evening, Tom and Helen were invited by Claire to join her and her husband for dinner. Though she had rehearsed her joint-back stories meticulously, Osbourne caught Helen out by addressing Tom as her 'boyfriend' rather than husband. Helen improvised a way out of the situation, but as they later discovered, the damage was already done.

Simultaneously, a cargo of illegal immigrants from Chechnya was intercepted by HM Customs. The traffickers panicked and threw the illegals overboard; all drowning. Tessa Phillips suspected the traffickers would change their routes, and the operation to catch them would have to be started again. Harry authorised the loan of Zoe to Tessa's team which resulted in one of Zoe's contacts in Ostend informing her that the traffickers were using old heroin routes. Inspecting surveillance photographs of a meeting with a man known as 'Bora', Zoe identified one other man at the meeting as Robert Osbourne. Piecing together information that Tom had recovered from 'Operation Greensleeves', the connection was clear - Osbourne was behind the trafficking of illegal immigrants who would overcrowd the UK's holding centres, choking the system. Once his followers had stirred up race riots, Osbourne would then encourage his friend Bill Watson (MP for Chigwell) to raise the issue of asylum seekers in the House of Commons. Although Tessa's agents found out the new routes, by then Robert Osbourne was aware his plan had been exposed.

After investigations into his background, it was discovered Osbourne's contact, Nick Thomas, was a freelance journalist called Keiran Harvey, and had been secretly recording conversations with Osbourne. When Tom Quinn met 'Thomas', he urged him to hand over all information he had.

Convinced she had gained Claire Osbourne's trust, Helen told her she knew about Robert's abusive temperament. Helen promised to introduce Claire to 'someone' who could help her. Tom met Claire at an agreed location and revealed that he works for a 'government department'. He assured her he and Helen had gone to such lengths because they wanted to help her, and that they knew she would tell them what Robert was up to. As a sweetener, he offered her £600 a week. After thinking about the matter, she agreed to give him what he wanted.

Tom and Helen prepared to pull out, but Osbourne was too suspicious of them; he sent his right-hand man, Bryon Lyndon, to kidnap them at gunpoint. Tom and Helen were taken to a kitchen at Osbourne's plant - along with the dead body of Keiran Harvey. When Osbourne arrived with his wife, Tom protested their innocence, but Osbourne knew Tom was lying due to Helen's lie about her 'boyfriend', although he had been aware someone had been trying to infiltrate him for months. Holding Helen next to a vat of boiling oil, he then demanded information on MI5 operations trying to infiltrate far-right groups, including sources. To force Tom to talk, he plunged Helen's hand in the oil. Tom tried to convince him Bryan Lyndon was behind a betrayal of his boss, but Osbourne failed to believe him; he pushed Helen face-first into the oil before shooting her dead.

Irregular cast

Actor Role
Lisa Faulkner Helen Flynn
Kevin McNally Robert Osbourne
Debra Stephenson Claire Osbourne
Daniel Chenery Sammy Osbourne
Shane Attwooll Bryan Lyndon
Tom Goodman-Hill 'Nick Thomas'/Kieran Harvey
Jasper Jacob Bill Watson
Rod Hallett Andrew Dorland


Looking After Our Own drew the most viewer complaints for the year July 2002 - June 2003, confirmed in a report by the Broadcasting Standards Commission. The scene where Helen was tortured by having her head plunged into a vat of boiling oil drew 154 complaints. Viewing figures for this episode peaked at 9.6million, as established by the Broadcasters Audience Research Board.


External links

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