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Cult Interview

'Spooks' Geoffrey Streatfeild interview: 'Calum's all mouth and no action'

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Geoffrey Streatfeild in Spooks

© BBC / Kudos

Spooks is back tomorrow - hurrah! - so we've got one final chat for you. We've already brought you an interview with new cast member Lara Pulver, so now it's time for a catch up with another newbie - Geoffrey Streatfeild, who's playing IT supremo Calum.

When Digital Spy visited the Spooks set, Geoffrey chatted to reporters, so read on to find out what he had to say about Calum being all mouth and no trousers, playing an IT expert when you're rubbish at typing, and being disappointed with square doors...

So, is Calum a bit of an IT geek?
"He's an IT expert! I don't think he thinks he's geeky. I think he thinks he's a bit above the geeks. He thinks he's got more to bring to the table than just IT, but yeah, that's what he's good at. But he resists being called a geek."

He knows his stuff, then?
"When he arrives he thinks he knows what he's doing slightly more than he does, so it's a bit of a learning experience for him."

We've heard he's a bit of a maverick - how?
"I think he imagines the MI5 way of doing things as a bit old-fashioned. He thinks when he arrives that Harry has a sort of old school, old club tie way of dealing with things so he's stuck in the past. Because he can use technology and he's not a private school, Oxbridge guy himself, I think he thinks there's another modern way of doing things. Of course he realises that there's more going on and that Harry is brilliant.

"I think he gets frustrated by the way he's supposed to do things. Rather than just going, 'I can see three steps ahead so I'll jump to step three', he has to learn that you actually have to go through steps one and two. He's constantly bumping into people."

Does he upset people?
"Yeah he upsets everybody! He doesn't respect anyone when he arrives and they're all actually really good at their jobs. He thinks he can do better and just says so and that kind of rubs everyone up the wrong way."

Is there any rivalry with Tariq, who's already doing IT in the show?
"I think that's the biggest learning curve for him - he has to work alongside somebody. They do rub each other up the wrong way but eventually do become close to each other, which is part of Calum's journey. So they have this fractious relationship that evolves into a friendship."

As an IT expert you must have some tough dialogue - how do you handle that?
"I think it's quite fun to make it sound like thins that you naturally just know. I find it quite difficult because I'm not very good at typing - I tend to do a lot of mouse work! I'm so good that I can actually do it all with a couple of clicks! When they give me some typing, I'm going to get totally rumbled."

Were you a fan of Spooks before joining the show?
"I was. I've been a fan of it since it began, so it's kind of weird to join a group of people when you know their characters. The first day on the Grid I was talking to Harry and Ruth. It's quite intimidating. Fortunately they're extremely lovely so it was alright. Just walking onto the set, you know what the pod doors are like. I was really excited - 'Do I get to go through them?' I was quite disappointed - they got rid of the round ones. They've now got square doors. I wanted to come through the round ones."

Have you spoken to any security experts to prepare for the role?
"Yes, and I did some research. Obviously there's a certain point past which you can't really find out much information! There's actually an online thing - MI5 has a website and you can fill out a questionnaire to find out whether you'd be a good spy. Apparently I would! I've slightly blown my cover by being in the show..."

Did you find any of the questions difficult?
"It's interesting from Calum's point of view, because Calum isn't very good at working in a team but most of the questions were to do with working in a team. It's quite interesting someone like him has come, but I think he's brought in by Lara Pulver's character Erin because he's sort of a breath of fresh air."

Geoffrey Streatfeild in Spooks

© BBC / Kudos



Can you talk about his humour a bit?
"He has quite a dry sense of humour which tends to come out at the worst times when things have gone really wrong. I think that's one of the reasons why people find him quite difficult to get on with, because he makes jokes when it's just really inappropriate. And because he doesn't know what he's getting into, he doesn't know who to make jokes to. It's like making jokes about your boss in front of your boss. I spend quite a lot of time going, 'What? It's funny!'"

Is that fun for you to play?
"It is, and it kind of evolves. Especially I find it fun with Max Brown, who plays Dimitri, because he's really hard. He's killed lots of people - I don't think Calum's killed anyone! He's got this hard nut, good looking hero guy, and I think initially they just don't like each other at all because they're from opposite ends of the spectrum. I think Calum just tries to make him laugh by taking the p*ss out of him and it gets nothing for ages, but I think they're beginning to warm up to each other. Also, after a bit of trying to solve the situations they find themselves in, they do earn mutual respect. I think Dimitri works out that Calum does have something to offer, can solve stuff and does find stuff out really fast. And I realise that Dimitri is really good at his job and is not just a dour hard man."

Do you get any action scenes or are you tied to the mouse?
"No, in the first episode I get out and about. I see some action - I'm not going to tell you what it is, but I think Calum wants to get out and about. It doesn't go very well!

"Definitely the times when he does get to go out I think he really enjoys it. You know the character Q from Bond? You know the way he comes up with inventions and stuff? Imagine that he was actually out in the field inventing. I think Calum sees it as being a new type of field technician."

Can you drop hints about the action he faces?
"I think he gets blown up and beaten up before he's even started! That's another thing - day one at the office you arrive and everyone's been told you're really, really good so you get given a job to do and you get beaten up. I think the first laptop he gets to defuse, it doesn't work and it blows up.

"I think having come in and been really, really cocky to Harry and so on, his first two jobs just go horribly wrong. He loses vital information. It's not his fault! I keep telling everyone, 'It wasn't actually my fault', but you see them going, 'Yeah, but...' I think it's, 'Welcome to the real world'."

So he has to prove himself a bit? The audience will see he's not great?
"Yeah, they'll be like, 'He's totally rubbish, he's jeopardising the security of the nation, and he's sort of gobby as well!' All mouth and no action. But obviously he comes good."

And Calum has worked with Erin before?
"Erin's brought in as the new head and I think she brings him in because they have worked together before. I think she recruits him from somewhere in the IT sector. So she trusts him, which makes the dynamic interesting, because she knows he's not just gobby and slightly accident prone. She tells him to shut up, but in that slightly brother-sister way - she can tell him to shut up and he kind of takes it from her because I think she knows there's more to him than that."

She's a new girl too.
"Yeah, so she needs him to perform and Calum's being really, really cocky and it doesn't help her case in terms of proving that she can run the ship!"

What can you tell us about how Calum develops?
"I think it's just that thing where you have each others' back in the team and the point where you kind of save each others' bacon. I think Calum has to earn their respect after a disappointing start. And I hope he does earn their respect!"

Spooks returns for its tenth and final series on Sunday at 9pm on BBC One.

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