"Your life depends on us."
This is the character sheet for Spooks.
Warning: As the series is now finished, and given the high cast turnover rate, there will be marked and unmarked spoilers.
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MI5 Section D Staff (as of Series 10)
Sir Harry Pearce
- Portrayed by: Peter Firth
- Berserk Button: Don't make fun of his team, especially if one of them died in the line of duty. The defecting Russian spy master got a 9mm in the chest for his trouble.
- Beware the Nice Ones: A Father to His Men and stern, albeit fair in his treatment of them. Kill his fellow agents however, and he will bend the rules, if not outright break them to put you in a hole in the ground.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Usually related to his time during the Cold War and Northern Ireland.
- Deadpan Snarker: Although this applies to most of the Spooks characters, especially when the Americans are involved, Harry makes it something of an art form.
- Heroic BSoD: It takes 10 series, but the death of Ruth finally pushes him into one.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Regularly seen pouring himself a glass of scotch after a hard day. When he is interrogated in one episode, his interrogator states that part of the profile of a traitor is recourse to hard liquor; Harry retorts that this would apply to most people in the service.
- Luke, I Might Be Your Father: To Sasha Gavrik.
- Mysterious Past: Harry's actions during the Cold War and Northern Island are mentioned but never full revealed. However, certain events during the former do become major plot points in the final few series.
- Officer and a Gentleman: He trained at Sandhurst, and had an impressive military career before being recruited to MI-5 during the Cold War.
- Papa Wolf: Harry is incredibly protective of his agents, and you will have hell to pay if you are responsible for threatening them. In fact, he will go off the record just to make you pay the price.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: In the first two series he is closer to Da Chief, but he becomes more willing to break the rules along with his agents than he was in earlier series. This doesn't mean he was never adverse to bending them, however.
- Tranquil Fury: Don't fuck with his agents. Osbourne, Katchimov, Blake and Maltby were on the receiving end of this.
- The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Harry was divorced by his wife many years ago, as the stress of his lifestyle became too much for her. He also has a son who developed a drug addiction, and a daughter with whom he has a strained relationship.
- The Spymaster: As well as his own domestic network, he is one of the masterminds of Sugarhorse, a top-secret network of Western-sympathetic agents in the former Soviet Union.
- Portrayed by: Max Brown
- Affectionate Nickname: "The Admiral", by Calum.
- Broken Pedestal: Lucas.
- Portrayed by: Lara Pulver
- Action Mom: She is one of the few officers to have a child, and this is set up to challenge Harry and Ruth's cynicism about the possibility of having a meaningful personal life outside of work.
- Killed Off for Real: In The Movie.
- Portrayed by: Geoffrey Streatfield
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Is killed off unceremoniously in The Movie.
- Those Two Guys: With Tariq, to the point of being Malcolm and Colin, part two. Takes it hard when Tariq dies in front of him at the steps of Thames House.
Former Section D Staff (Beware of Spoilers)
- Portrayed by: Matthew Macfadyen
- All There in the Manual: Supplementary material says that he married Christine Dale and set up a security consultancy.
- Broken Ace: Originally a rising star in the security services. He becomes increasingly disillusioned.
- Broken Smile: Increasingly throughout Series 2.
- The Bus Came Back: Makes a brief appearance in the series finale.
- Despair Event Horizon: The death of the wife of a Colombian drug lord who was being used as a mole by MI-5 finally pushes him over this.
- Put on a Bus: Decommissioned after his conflict with the morality of the job began to interfere with operations.
- Real Men Get Shot: In the first season. This was also before guns became more common on the show.
- The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Tom finds this out the hard way.
- Portrayed by: Keeley Hawes
- Broken Pedestal: She very much admired Tessa, and was distraught to find out that she was running phantom agents to pocket their payroll.
- Cunning Linguist: An Oxford graduate in Modern Languages. In Season 2 she is seen translating Serbian, and she is also revealed to be fluent in German.
- Honey Trap: Her specialty when she has to go undercover. She gets incriminated on manslaughter based on this trope after she seduced someone to kill a person who was supposedly a plainclothes officer.
- Just Friends: With Danny after she was recruited to MI5 together with him and Tom. Some background material does suggest that she does care for Danny over time after she was told by Harry to leave London and has secretly sent postcards to the UK to let her know of his thoughts. However, Special Branch officers intercept them from time to time and later turn them over to MI5.
- The Exile: After the court finds her guilty of manslaughter and conspiracy to murder during a MI5 op against Turkish organized criminal groups, Harry manages to secure a deal whereby she escapes jail time by taking on a new identity and moving to Chile. Zoe has no choice but to accept it and takes the opportunity to start over there with Will, who moves from London to be with her.
- Portrayed by: David Oyelowo
- The Dandy: The team regularly tease him for his penchant for nice clothes and grooming:Zoe: You, in the army? They don't do designer khaki, mate.
- Just Friends: With Zoe after he got recruited to MI-5. Many characters in the three seasons try to avert this by lampshading that he's got feelings for her and that he doesn't want to get in her way. This includes Will, who isn't fooled by his insistence that he's just a really good friend.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: His final words to the terrorist holding him and Fiona hostage: "Fuck you, you death-worshipping fascist!"
- Manly Tears: His first and only kill really does disturb him emotionally.
- Money Fetish: Upbraided by Harry for fiddling with his credit rating in one episode. However, this makes him a natural at stockbroking when placed undercover in a bank.
- Token Minority: As the only black member of the team, Danny bitterly hints at suspecting that this might be why he was recruited. Given his top-of-the-class technical aptitude and surveillance skills, however, this would appear to be unfounded.
- Portrayed by: Lisa Faulkner
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Hand and face burned in a chip pan then shot in the head.
- Dead Star Walking: Promoted as a regular character, but violently killed in the second episode. This caused such a huge public response that the BBC would continue doing this in their genre shows for the rest of the decade, to increasingly diminishing returns as it became predictable.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Her death only two episodes into the first season was extremely shocking, and was the first of many signs that this is a show where Anyone Can Die.
- Portrayed by: Hugh Simon
- Crossword Puzzle: When Adam wants something decoded quickly, he says "Quick as one of your crossword puzzles".
- Intelligence Equals Isolation
- MacGyvering: During a grid lockdown, he and Colin manage to build a robot with which to communicate with the outside world using only the materials in their office.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: There is virtually no technical subject, from computer security to chemical weapons to explosives, that Malcolm does not seem to be an expert on.
- Portrayed by: Rory MacGregor
- Crossword Puzzle: Apparently a big fan of cryptic crosswords.
- Kill the Cutie: Of all the team, Colin is the most harmless and the least regularly exposed to danger, which made his execution at the hands of rogue MI6 officers all the more cruel.
- Those Two Guys: While it is clear that Malcolm and Colin are best friends, the significance of it for the two background characters becomes clear when Colin dies, and Malcolm angrily tells Harry "He wasn't just some geek who did crossword puzzles, he was my bloody best friend!"
- Portrayed by: Jenny Agutter
- The Bus Came Back: After getting fired at the end of series one, she makes a one-scene cameo in the middle of season two, before showing up with a private firm near the end of that same series.
- Only in It for the Money: By the time of the series, she's using her position as Senior Intel Analyst and Section Chief to set up "Phantom Agents", i.e. non-existent contacts, in order to pocket their bribes for her own profit. Her unsuccessful attempt to buy off Zoe is what led to her downfall.
- Put on a Bus: After being terminated by Harry.
- The Bad Guy Wins: In her second series two appearance, she uses her position to compromise an MI-5 op, getting one of Tom and Zoe's contacts killed in the process. After sending a video to Harry where she gloats about what she's done, she flees the country and is never caught.
- The Handler: She's in charge of a wide portfolio of assets. Unfortunately, not all of them are real people.
- Portrayed by: Shauna Macdonald
- Naïve Newcomer: At times she can come across as this; she is new to the team and the job, and she gets thrown in on what the much more experienced Zoe calls the Day from Hell.
- Put on a Bus: Transferred to GCHQ in light of her grief over Danny's death.
- Portrayed by: Nicola Walker
- Beware the Nice Ones: One of the friendliest team members, but she's not above threatening lives or beating people with branches.
- Brainy Brunette
- Cunning Linguist: She is fluent in Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, Latin, Greek, Mandarin, and Wu; though apparently her Cantonese is appalling.
- Encyclopaedic Knowledge: To the extent that she won University Challenge as an undergraduate, and was asked back for their Champion of Champions series.
- Girl Friday: To Harry Pearce, even at the end of series 10, when she technically no longer works for him.
- Hidden Depths: Ruth sings in choirs, and her personnel file notes that she's taken self defence classes too.
- It Gets Easier: She laments that she's become completely desensitised to the horrible things she sees in her work, and feels that it's left her "dead inside".
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Has a cat named Fidget, and is one of the nicest people on the team.
- Married to the Job: The few scenes we get of Ruth outside work show that she's unable to put it aside, even sneaking secret documents home at the weekend to read.
- Playful Hacker: No security system is safe from Ruth, but she's only in it for information.
- Significant Wardrobe Shift: When she first joins MI-5, Ruth wears bright colours, heavy makeup, and a charm necklace. By the time she leaves, almost entirely burnt out from the experience she's almost entirely wearing blacks and greys, minimal subtle makeup, and the jewellery is long gone. Though it reflects her change in attitude, it also shows how much more professional she's become.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: The common theme with her romances.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Harry - it builds slowly at first, and becomes a recurring plot point by series 5 onwards.
- Will They or Won't They?: With Harry. Tragically, she dies before they can.
- Portrayed by: Rupert Penry Jones
- Heroic BSoD: Several times in Season 5, revealed in the season finale to be the delayed effects of PTSD and survivor guilt after his wife Fiona's death in the previous season.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Dies driving a car rigged with explosives to an empty square so that there would be no civilian casualties; had he bailed a few seconds earlier, he might have survived.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Played with when Ruth accidentally calls him Tom, but ultimately averted. Although it is clear that Adam is the same kind of character as Tom, it is averted by the fact that Adam is introduced while Tom is still around (albeit on the run), thereby higlighting their contrasts; Adam has a more casual and affable persona, in addition to his qualities as The Ace. Also, it helps that Tom is more or less broken at this point. However, after Tom leaves, it is clear to Adam that the team don't entirely trust him as a replacement.
- Torture Technician: Adam was tortured when his cover was blown in Syria, and this seems to have affected his behaviour. His interrogation methods at several points cross the line into outright torture, including sleep deprivation, constant loud noise, stress positions, and tricking the prisoner into consuming laxative-laced water.
- Wig, Dress, Accent: He first appears as a crazy homeless man, who stumbles upon Zoe, Danny, Sam, Ruth and Malcolm having a secret meeting while on the run. However, he quickly breaks character to tell them that they are being bugged and followed, before gaining them time by disrupting their pursuers.
- Portrayed by: Olga Sosnovska
- Dark and Troubled Past: No one except Adam knows her real name, and with very good reason.
- Honey Trap: She helps to bring down a corrupt media mogul this way.
- Take Care of the Kids: Her last words: "Take care of Wes. Promise me you will."
- Portrayed by: Raza Jaffrey
- Token Religious Teammate: Justified in that Zaf's background allows him to infiltrate Islamic terror cells more convincingly than others. Also subverted in that while Zaf is of a Muslim background, he's not very devout - though he does find misrepresentations of his culture and religion annoying.
Joanna "Jo" Portman
- Portrayed by: Miranda Raison
- Action Girl: More so later on.
- Bulletproof Human Shield: Her death subverts this. When Ros is forced to shoot Finn to stop him from detonating an explosive, the bullet goes through him and into Jo (who was restraining him), killing them both.
- Heroic BSOD: During Series 7. When she and Adam were captured by the Redbacks, she was not only tortured, but repeatedly raped. She has frequent visions of her attacker, which distress her to the point of compromising missions and even endangering her life.
- Boyish Short Hair: Series 6 and 7. Series 8 saw her grow it back to where it was in series 5.
- Intrepid Reporter: Her introduction fits this.
- Took a Level in Badass: Though she was cunning and resourceful to begin with, by Series 5 she had become noticeably more physically capable.
Rosalind "Ros" Myers
- Portrayed by: Hermione Norris
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Series eight sees Ros undergoing this to some extent. Shows up most obviously in the fourth episode, during an exchange with a drug addict who shares a noticeable resemblance to recently deceased officer Jo Portman.
- Faking the Dead: Adam does this for her when she is about to be killed by Yalta. She returns in the next season on a mission in Moscow.
- Fire And Ice Personality: Normally presents herself as being very cool and collected but can become very emotional with little warning.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Dies in a hotel explosion, while trying to rescue the Home Secretary.
- Not So Stoic: She can become extremely emotional and panicky.
- Portrayed by: Gemma Jones
- Combat Pragmatist: Sadly, against another section member.
- Lady Drunk: Displays aspects of this trope.
- Never Mess with Granny: And never be alone in a room with Connie and a garrotte.
- Running Gag: She still frequently refers to the FSB as the KGB, not having noticed much of a substantial difference since the name change.
- The Mole: Double subverted. Initially falling under suspicion of this midway through series seven, an audiotape from her dead ex-lover (one of the Sugarhorse name-holders) initially cleared her. The Reveal that she was recruited to the FSB as a double-agent in the 80s, and had passed the names of Sugarhorse operatives to the Russians, came in her second to last episode. She also framed Harry for the same, and later killed Ben Kaplan after realizing he had easily accessible evidence of this.
- Redemption Equals Death: Her decision to disarm the nuke, even after realizing the conventional detonator will blow up seconds after the nuclear core is removed. Also takes the opportunity to confess to selling out Lucas to the Russians.
- Averted in-universe, at least to those in charge of the dead officers memorial, which skips straight from "B. Kaplan" to "J. Portman".
- Portrayed by: Alex Lanipekun
Lucas North aka John Bateman
- Portrayed by: Richard Armitage
- Broken Ace: Comes packaged this way. In fact, press material from Kudos basically says this and also that he's trying to rebuild his skills and regain his former prominence.
- Dark and Troubled Past: His lengthy imprisonment gives him some major issues, especially when it becomes plot-relevant. Combined with Mysterious Past in regard to his pre-MI-5 backstory.
- Heroic BSoD: Has a few of these in series seven and eight due to his imprisonment. Maya's death pushes him into one that leads to his suicide.
- Driven to Suicide: Reaches this at one point in his imprisonment. Flashbacks show his attempt to hang himself - an attempt interrupted by his lead torturer, Darshavin, helping to further imply that Lucas might be Stockholmed.
- Reaches it again at the end of series nine. This time, no one stops him...
- Interrogated for Nothing: For years, he was subjected to waterboarding for information about 'Sugarhorse', which he knew nothing about. Though Harry did.
- Loss of Identity: Undergoes this after becoming trapped between "Lucas the Hero" and "John the Monster". Ultimately kills himself after being unable to reconcile the two, and destroying everything he cared about in both lives in the process.
- Prisons Are Gymnasiums: Sort of. Straight after he gets back, Lucas asserts that being in a Russian prison has made him stronger and more wary than ever; Harry retorts that he's half-starved and running purely on adrenaline.
- The Dog Bites Back: To his former torturers Katchimov and Darshavin when each tires to manipulate him when he gets back to England.
- The Mole: Subverted and Inverted. Seen passing intel to Russian contact and ex-wife Elizavieta, he later reveals that it was "junk intel" designed to get the Russians to trust him so he could find out their plot against Britain. Spends the next several episodes pumping his Russian connections for information to help MI-5 in its own mole-hunt.
- Stockholm Syndrome: Invoked by Harry concerning Lucas and his former torturer Darshavin. Ultimately subverted.
- Portrayed by: Shazad Latif
- Portrayed by: Sophia Myles
- Damsel in Distress: Frequently gets herself captured and needs to be rescued.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Comes up in episode two. Turns out she once dealt arms to a Columbian drug lord, whom she ended up ripping off. Said drug lord comes after her and nearly compromises an MI5 op, which nearly gets her fired right then and there.
- Put on a Bus: In between series nine and ten. While Harry is temporarily suspended for his handling of the Albany affair, his stand-in Erin Watts fires Beth due to her unsavory past.
Other agency personnel
—Portrayed by: Hugh LaurieMI6 Section Chief in Series 1.
- At the Opera Tonight: Siviter is particularly fond of Wagner.
- Interservice Rivalry: With MI5.
- Refuge in Audacity: His golden moment comes when his phone goes off at the opera.Woman: Do you mind awfully not doing that?
Siviter: Are you a Nazi, madam?
Woman: I beg your pardon?
Siviter: I mean, we Wagner fans are a rum lot. I myself bugger skinheads. So kindly don't tell me what I can or cannot do.
- Portrayed by: Megan Dodds
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Tom.
- It's All About Me: Or at least, all about the United States, in the eyes of the Grid team.
- Tsundere: She reveals to Tom that the reason she acts so demanding and aggressive during the security arrangements for the President's visit is that it's her first major assignment, and her superiors are just waiting for her to screw it up.
- Portrayed by: Nicholas Jones
- Knight Templar: A firm believer of "saving the village by burning it down". First manipulates al-Qaeda cells into attacking Britain, then stages his own terrorist attacks, all in the name of getting a series of anti-terrorism measures in place that would effectively erase civil liberties in the name of national security. He also assassinates and then discredits key members of Parliament who oppose his plans, and later throws others in jail.
- Evil Counterpart: To Harry.
—Portrayed by: Tim McInneryChairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.
- Knight Templar: Though slightly less so than Collingwood; Oliver Mace saw the Tom Quinn incident as an opportunity to neuter and subjugate MI-5 for the government's purposes.
- Smug Snake: Never seems to have quite the control on his various gambits as other characters in similar positions of power. Dear god is he arrogant about said position, though.
- Portrayed by: Matthew Marsh
- Eagleland: As well as being unambiguous about the supremacy of American interests and cavalier about the interests of other countries, Hogan has made his disdain for the UK and its place in the "special relationship" quite clear.
- Turncoat: He eventually leaves the CIA, and sells Adam and Jo over to the Redbacks.
—Portrayed by: Creator/Stuart WilsonThe head of the FSB's London operations. He oversees the prisoner exchange in which the team gets back Lucas North after his eight year imprisonment in Russia. He intends to use Lucas as a mole in MI-5. Shot dead by Harry as revenge for Adam Carter's death.
- Evil Counterpart: To Harry.
- The Chessmaster: How Lucas describes him.
- We Have Reserves: He sees officers, ultimately, as expendable resources.Katchimov: Adam Carter was a courageous fellow. But there are always more courageous fellows out there, waiting to step into the breach.
- Portrayed by: Peter Sullivan
- Karmic Death: Shot dead by the same person he sold Harry on to.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Ruthless and loyal to Russia they may be, but Viktor and his team live in London, some of them with families, which means that they are definitely not on board with detonating a nuclear device in the city.
- Portrayed by: Richard Johnson
- The Mole: Information provided by Lucas from memories of his torture lead to Harry discovering Qualtrough's treachery in the fifth episode. Revealed to be Connie James' handler (and recruiter) two episodes later.
- Treacherous Advisor: The only person Harry feels he can talk to about the breach in Sugarhorse is one of its conspirators.
- Portrayed by: Genevieve O'Reilly
- Knight Templar: As with the other CIA Nightingale operatives, is willing to push India and Pakistan into nuclear war for the sake of defeating Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
- The Mole: For Nightingale. Revealed when she kills her station chief rather than be revealed as such.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: At first, seems to be a very belated version of this for Christine Dale, right down to her relationship with Lucas. Subverted due to her intentional duplicity.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Shortly after her capture by Ros and Lucas, Nightingale sends an assassin to her hospital bed...
Members of government
Nicholas Blake MP
- Portrayed by: Robert Glenister
The Home Secretary in the British government from Series 5 to Series 9. Harry regularly briefed and liaised with Blake, and he was one of the few politicians who Harry respected. Killed by Harry at the beginning of Series 9, when it was revealed that he was one of the architects of Nightingale.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: For the most part; he gives Harry leeway as far as the chains of office will allow.
Andrew Lawrence MP
- Portrayed by: Tobias Menzies
- Portrayed by: Anna Chancellor
- Deep Cover Agent: The ruthless, cut-throat politician who was apparently out to protect British interests at any cost is also the head of Yalta, a syndicate of influential individuals devoted to subverting American hegemony.
William Towers, MP
- Portrayed by: Simon Russell Beale
- Portrayed by: Pascal Langdale
- Ambiguous Disorder: His file hints at a history of violent behavior, and he shows a disturbing Lack of Empathy to everyone who isn't Nina, including his own best friend. Late in the episode, he is seen taking what appears to be medication.
- Ax-Crazy: He's disturbingly eager to get the trials started, goes into a chuckling fit after the first victim dies, and is quick to threaten his best friend when he gets cold feet. When Robinov orders him to back down, he refuses, with the implication that he doesn't want to stop killing. Ros even calls him insane.
- Bilingual Dialogue: He speaks both English and French.
- Brainy Brunet: He won scholarships to Oxford and the Sorbonne when he was 17.
- Faux Affably Evil: Puts on a friendly façade when interrogating the businessmen. It makes his ruthlessness all the more chilling.
- French Jerk: A French terrorist.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Lampshaded by Harry.Harry: Lambert may be bright, but it doesn’t explain how he went from small-time protestor to storming the Bendorff in under a year.
- Hero Killer: His actions lead to the death of Jo Portman.
- No Sympathy: Exposing the corrupt elite sounds like a noble goal on paper, but Finn is willing to kill innocent people and hostages and get funding from someone who is even worse than the men he plans to execute to achieve it.
- Outlaw Couple: With Nina.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: He kidnaps the Bendorff group in order to force them to publicly confess to their crimes, and he believes that it is his responsibility to "pass sentence" onto them when they are (inevitably) found guilty. When his friend Rudy questions his methods, he responds that "[murder] is the only justice these people deserve."
- Portrayed by: Antonia Campbell-Hughes
- Affectionate Nickname: Finn calls her Ninochka.
- Heel–Face Turn: She becomes increasingly horrified by Finn's brutality. Ros convinces her to turn on him and reopen the lift, allowing Jo to enter the bunker.
- Morality Pet: Seems to be this for Finn. Despite his violent tendencies, he never threatens or harms her even after she turns on him. This is notable considering he shoots his best friend for trying to do the same.
- Outlaw Couple: With Finn.
- Portrayed by: James Dicker
- Parents as People: Though they try, MI-5 Field Officer might not be the ideal employment for parents who want to be there for their children.
- Raised by Grandparents: After Adam's death.
- Portrayed by: Caroline Carver
- She Is All Grown Up: Harry has trouble putting aside his instinct to step in and protect her. Danny rather rebukes him for treating her like a silly little girl; he describes her as smart and funny.
- Visit by Divorced Dad: Harry reveals himself after Danny reveals that he's an MI-5 officer. They finally reconcile after he shows her the poetry his wife was teaching to her A-Level English class when she was a baby, which makes Harry tear up.