Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy

Cult Interview

Richard Armitage ('Spooks')

By
Lucas North from Spooks

© BBC

It seems like we've been waiting for Spooks to return to our screens forever and the ninth series, which starts next week, looks like a belter. There are new spies and new threats, but never fear - Lucas is still there too. We caught up with Richard Armitage, who plays the spy, to find out what's coming up this series.

What do you think the theme of this series of Spooks is?
"The theme of the series is probably deception. And appearance and reality - what you think things are and who you think people are and who they really are."

How does Lucas react to Ros's death?
"I think Lucas is quite shaken by Ros's death. It reaffirms the danger of the world that we live in. They worked closely together and she was somebody that he really respected and admired, so it's quite a difficult thing to deal with. But actually, at the very moment he's trying to deal with it they're out on a really difficult mission, so it's one of those things where you rise above it and carry on with the job. But I think it rocks his foundations slightly and he starts to question what the job's about. At the same time this thing comes back from his past to crack his foundations."

Lucas has had a bit of a dark side in the past. Does that come out more in this series?
"The previous series have been very much about Lucas's prison sentence, and that's sort of coloured his present life. But we go much further back this time and have ghosts from the past. Maya, played by Laila Rouass, is one of the characters that comes back and she really opens up the Pandora's Box and makes him look at who he was before he went to prison, so we find out another Lucas."

How was it for you, playing a whole new side to Lucas?
"It's interesting. It feels like working in reverse because we've already established his background and then we've had to go and establish a much deeper background, so we have to make sure what we've shot in the present makes sense. And also it's taken me by surprise because the writers gave me something which I hadn't factored into my own biography. But it's fine because everything just shifts. It's quite exciting to play."

You mentioned Maya, Lucas's ex-girlfriend. How does he react to her return?
"It takes him by surprise. It comes in terms of a photograph, which really stimulates a very strong memory. He's just compelled to see her. It's Proustian - it kind of takes him all the way back to the time when they were together and everything was right. It was 15 years ago and they've really changed. His memory is something quite pure and amazing and real because since then he's playing this guy who's a spy and he's kind of lost himself in all those different characters that he's been playing and the legends he's been playing and the work he's been doing with his colleagues. She's real and it really shapes his future."

What happens when Lucas reunites with Maya?
"They go on quite an interesting journey because she really has moved on in her life and he has to fight quite hard to get her to even listen to him. They do rekindle something and it starts to burn but before it gets a chance to really ignite, there's another character who throws water over it."

In previous series we've seen Lucas get distracted by things and focus all his energy on them. Does that happen with Maya?
"Yeah. I mean, it happens more with another character called Vaughan who comes in in episode one and he really turns. He has a hook inside Lucas and he can really control him, so really for the entire series Lucas is being controlled by somebody else. And this character uses Maya as a way of controlling him."

Will Lucas's relationship with Sarah in the last series continue to affect him?
"I think it's made him question those personal relationships which are so difficult to maintain while doing this particular job. He's had two significant failed relationships. Hers was a weird one. She was his sort of equal for the CIA and it was quite volatile. So I think the failure of that relationship is making him question 'Is it possible for me to actually have a strong personal relationship and do this job?' and in a way that's one of the themes of this series."

A couple of series ago, Lucas was the new character. What's it like being one of the main ones now?
"After Ros's death, Lucas is asked to step up to be head of section. It feels like quite a natural progression and then our new team come in. I feel kind of responsible for them. I choose them as my team. Lucas has a nurturing aspect and he bears the responsibility quite well, although he's still dealing with the cracks in his foundation at the same time. It's a balancing act."

How does Lucas respond when he's asked to become the head of section?
"I think he's wary of it but actually waiting for it. It's a test of whether Harry will trust him or not. There really isn't anybody else around that could do it other than Ruth and she's not actually an operative, she's an analyst. In a way, when there is no-one there you kind of expect it to come your way, but there are no guarantees. Harry could draft in somebody new. It's a moment where they are kind of pitted against each other but Harry delivers, so there is a sense of Lucas finally getting the trust that he's craved from Harry."

How does Lucas react to the new recruits? Does he trust them?
"He's chosen them really. With Beth, she is a bit of a liability and I think he quite likes that. She's dangerous, she's brave, she'll go out on a limb, which is quite useful in a woman in this profession. To have somebody that thinks and behaves in the same kind of physical, mental strength as a man is rather brilliant. And Dimitri, his skillset is very useful. He's special services so he's an explosions expert. He's picking a team that's covering all the bases and he's quite nurturing towards them."

Last series the show's big storyline was Nightingale. What is it this time?
"Albany. It's very hard to describe. It's something they're chasing. It's something that's been developed, and it's terrifying to humanity. That's all I can say! But it's terrifying. And actually I don't think it exists, but it has the possibility to absolutely exist in real life. It's possible."

Do you think that's why Spooks is popular, because it deals with things that are so realistic?
"I think so. And because they get the science behind it. You think there's no way this could happen, but when you start to analyse it, it probably already exists. It's probably existed for a while. And that's in a way what Albany is - it's kind of like a voice at the back of the global subconscious saying, 'Be careful of this because it's probably already out there'."

Spooks returns for a new series on Monday, September 20 at 9pm on BBC One.

You May Like