17/09/2011

SPOOKS vs DOWNTON ABBEY - WHO WILL WIN THE MATCH?

What will you be watching on Sunday night, 9 p.m., in the UK? British audience is asked to choose between  the last series ever of BBC spy drama Spooks and the new episodes of hugely successful ITV period drama, Downton Abbey. A real duel between two popular shows, one at its epilogue, the other at its second season . I would be facing a serious dilemma if I had to choose. So, for once, I'm happy not to live in the UK and to be releaved from the burden. What will you do, instead? BBC1 or ITV1? 

I'm very sad for the end of Spooks. I've seen every single episode in all the series, some of them on Italian satellite pay-tv and the rest on DVD.
Due to my fondness for Brit actor Richard Armitage, you can imagine how incredibly happy I was when, in 2007,  he joined the cast as Lucas North. The last three series (7/8/9)  have been my favourite so far, with the unforgettable first one starring Matthew MacFadyen as Tom Quinn.
Now after a decade of killing off its cast members one by one,  Spooks is being killed off itself.
However, strange enough for a successful TV show, it was Spooks producer Kudos rather than the broadcaster that decided to end the popular  series "in its prime" with the last 6 episodes airing in the next 6 Sundays.

The 10th and final series will focus on the only survivor lead character, the head of section D,  Harry Pearce, played by Peter Firth. 
Numerous stars have appeared in Spooks since it began in 2002 including Keeley Hawes, Matthew Macfadyen, Jenny Agutter, Robert Hardy, Hugh Laurie, Simon Russell Beale, Rupert Penry-Jones and Hermione Norris and the already mentioned Richard Armitage.

The new chief spy in the last series of Spooks will be played by Lara Pulver, who was in Robin Hood as Gisborne's sister and in the latest series of True Blood.  Erin Watts comes in to replace Harry. In the cast also Max Brown as Demitri Levendis, Nicola Walker as Ruth Evershed, Geoffrey Streatfield as Calum Reed, Shazad Latif as Tariq Masood and Simon Russel Beale as Home Secretary William Towers.
They promise it'll  be a fittingly high octane thrilling finale. I'm sure I'll be missing Lucas North all the time and coping with fits of nostalgia. However painful, you'll bet I'll watch it as soon as possible.


Spooks though armed with guns, great actors and a faithful fanbase will have a hard time duelling with lovely period drama Downton Abbey. The first series was extraordinarily successful. What now?  Who will win the match?


Fans of delightful Downton Abbey have to be ready to a dramatic change: The Great War will be haunting the lives of all the characters they loved, the atmosphere will be definitely darker. They must also  be ready to shocks and unexpected twists. Will love and war be the ingredients of another huge success?

The plot from MailOnline:



Series Two explodes on to the screen with the full horror and carnage of life in the trenches of the Somme in 1916.The Earl is desperate to get into uniform and play his useful part in the war effort. Lady Cora must adjust to her three headstrong daughters, Mary, Edith and Sybil, becoming fiercely independently-minded young women. And there are any number of affairs of the heart yet to be resolved.Downton has been turned into a convalescent home for wounded soldiers, with the daughters helping out by becoming drivers and nurses. Real amputees were hired as extras. The family’s genteel pace of life has been turned into turmoil. Observes the Earl: ‘War is now reaching its long fingers into Downton, scattering our chicks.’As the war draws to a close in 1918, Downton — and the rest of the world — faces up to another catastrophe: a Spanish flu pandemic claims 50 million lives.From a more practical viewpoint, explains producer Liz Trubridge: ‘It’s exciting taking characters who did nothing for themselves before the war — they didn’t even plump a cushion or dress themselves — and plunging them into an unfamiliar situation’.

After the 90-minute opening episode, there will be six more of 75 minutes each and a 90-minute finale, followed at Christmas by a two-hour special set on New Year’s Eve 1919.  A third series is also being discussed, set in the Twenties.

Since I love both series I want to wish good luck to both opponents in this Sunday night match. Sooner or later,  I'll be able to watch them both and  tell you who my winner is. Meanwhile, what will you living in the UK  be seeing  on Sunday night ? What would you living in other countries (like me!)  choose if you lived in the UK?

15 comments:

Traxy said...

I have prepared the DVR to series link both, so I won't have to choose! :D When it comes to if we'll watch one of them on the night itself, I think it's slightly more likely to be Spooks as I think the hubby will be more interested in watching that. Also, the BBC have no ads, which is always a bonus, so if I see DA on the DVR, it means I can fast-forward over the ads. :) Either way, can't wait for tomorrow night!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Traxy
Lucky girl! Enjoy your Sunday night!

Jenny Allworthy said...

TV wars in the UK? Wow! I hope this doesn't backfire for the BBC. Here in Canada we have to wait until January for Downton and likely later for the last season of Spooks.

If I were the UK tonight I'd probably watch Downton Abbey although if you have a DVR then Traxy has the right idea. Skip the ads!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

I hate the ads in the middle of a movie or drama. This is why I prefer DVDs to watching TV. In Italy we have ads on State TV too. It's just impossible to watch a good movie/series like that!
Thanks for your comment , Jenny!

Laura Ferrari said...

I like them both but, if I had to choose (which I don't since, like you, I live in Italy ;-)), I would watch Downton Abbey.
I mean, Spooks is engaging and great and all, but Downton's got Maggie Smith!
Even if the plot was absolutely unsubstantial (and luckily, so far, it wasn't), she would still be worthy the time.
And, for us drama addicts, there are also Brendan Coyle, Hugh Bonneville and Dan Stevens to delight us.

Yes, definitely Downton Abbey.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Laura Ferrari
I find them both definitely but differently unmissable. Thanks for your comment. Have a great weekend!

Prue Batten said...

Terrific post, MG... you're a fair adjudicator and I think if i lived in the UK and not OZ, then my Hard-Drive would be working very hard! The difficulty would be deciding what to watch and what to record!
PS: Congratulations on being the number one blog listed by the BBC!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Prue Batten
Thank you, Prue. However, Fly High is there by chance. I used the tag "spooks" and there we are! No particular merit. It is an amazing fact, anyway.
Enjoy your weekend! Hugs. MG

phylly3 said...

I can't watch either... yet! I certainly hope they don't put both shows up against each other when they come to Canada. That is just too cruel!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@phylly3
I don't think it is a very strategic choice. I wouldn't have done this. I actually can't understand why they chose to put them both up at the same time on the same day :-(

Hector said...

I love them both so record them both!!

patrick said...

Spooks was a brilliant show--save a few fits and starts post Ros and Adam, but still quite good--that is the finest exploration of the British soul since the LeCarre Mini-series of TTSS, Smiley's and Perfect Spy.
I loved Ruth, the very best of a very complex national psychology. Born to Empire...

patrick said...

Spooks was a masterpiece, right up to the end. Sure, there were glitches from time to time with plots, but the archetypes of Harry, Ruth, Ros, Adam and Lucas are up there with Haydon and Bland and Westerby of LeCarre and Ian Richardsons character in House of Cards...Spooks.

alan said...

alan says nothing can match up to spooks truly riveting; and will be sadly missed.

Ed said...

Excellent post. Happily we in America just saw "Series" 9 Episode 4, so we have at least a full season left.

However, your post is outdated, at least her in the States. The vast majority of people who watch much TV had a VCR in past years and now have a DVR, including anyone who gets their TV from either Cable or Satellite. Therefore it wouldn't matter if both of the wonderful programs you mentioned were aired against each other at 3 AM. The day or time a program is on is essentially irrelevant as to when you watch it. We can record 6 programs simultaneously while my wife watches one previously recorded program in the bedroom and I watch something different in the den.

As an anglophile (my wife is what she calls a British "Subject"), I am dismayed that the U.K. is so far behind on TV technology. OTOH, you've been ahead on cell phones until at least a few years ago.

Again, good post, well worth reading.