Maybe it is irresponsible to keep trying to convince people to watch this show given that it gets into your brain like a worm and takes over?
. . . but I'm not ready to stop trying so I'll plunge forward with my list. There have been 9 complete seasons of this program, and I count 21 spooks who have graced the grid with their presence (so far). Check out the complete list here. I am not including minor characters, recurring Americans or other bad guys (wink), or home secretaries, just the main team members who have worked to save the world. And, when I say "best", I'm thinking of both: (1) the characters that enrich the program the most, without whom the show would suffer the greatest loss and (2) the ones that make the most skilled and useful spies - those you would definitely want on your side.
- Harry Pearce - His steadiness, consistency and surefootedness make him indispensable and I am so glad that he has never left or been killed off, though he's come close many times. Though he is usually seen indoors, my most memorable spy moments over the course of the show are when Harry gets out into the world and shows how calculating and on top of his game he really is (such as when he coolly takes off his tie and kills the bad guy tracking him or goes to the home of the former (and evil) home secretary and brazenly poisons him before removing the evidence and quietly leaving. He is equally competent with elected high-officials, walking political tightropes with ease and guts. I can't imagine Spooks without Harry, so he has to be #1.
- Ruth Evershed - Ruth is the soul of the show. I like the show so much better when she is there.
- Ros Myers - Of all the section chiefs, she is the best. Her motives and actions are
- Tom Quinn - It is really hard to choose between our three main men: Tom, Lucas and Adam. All three are equally tough and skilled spies with incredible energy and excitement generated around them. As people, they are all a bit screwed up, so they are on fairly equal footing. But, I'm giving the thinnest edge to Tom, because of his depth. He is introspective and serious. He is philosophical but still very real. He is in good touch with his own failings and knows he's walking on ice a lot of the time. He approaches his work with great intellect. Although Lucas has a lot of these same qualities too, it turns out he has Voldemort growing out of the back of his head. . . .
- Lucas North. If Lucas hadn't turned out to be such a messed up example of humanity, I would
- Adam Carter. I really like his confidence and skill. He makes a great lead officer. He has a regular guy-ness about him which is very appealing. He also has a lot of emotional issues, but even through those, he manages to woo the women, catch the bad guys, strut around the office and give off a great air of "I'm in charge here." He is excellent at seeing another perspective and hunting out a less than obvious solution to a problem. I love Adam, but in the long run, its Tom and Lucas I miss.
- Zafar Younis. Zaf is extraordinarily skilled and confident. He somehow manages to be polite
- Jo Portman. She is just freakin' adorable. (They haven't yet found a bad haircut for that girl; she rocks 'em all. Just sayin). In any case she is also a shockingly willing spy. For someone so young and relatively inexperienced, she goes into any situation under any circumstance and rises to the occasion. She also seems very human and appealing as a friend and confidant.
- Malcolm Wynn Jones. I love all the tech guys: Malcolm, Colin and Tariq. I'm giving the top spot to Malcolm only because, due to his experience and seniority, feels like more than just a techie. He is a more well-rounded presence on the grid. Plus its really cool to see someone his age get into all the gadgets.
- Colin Wells. A great open earnest lovely man. He manages to make computers funny.
Honorable Mentions: to Tariq Masood and Ben Kaplan. Really great appealing characters who just don't get the same opportunity to show their stuff as the 10 above do.
Honorable Mentions Class II: to Beth and Dimitri. Beth showed a lot of potential and by the end of Season 9, I really got to like her with Dimitri and them both with Lucas. Dimitri seems cut in the Zaf mode, so he has a lot of potential which I'm looking forward to seeing unfold. But there's just no way they can unseat any of the massive spooks on my top 10 list.
- Zoe &
- Danny. Both have too much angst and wishy-washiness. They seem so hesitant, afraid of their jobs and responsibility. There are times both become distinctly likable -- but those are few and far between. Though, in Danny's last episode he stepped up his game and definitely redeemed himself.
- Fiona just irritates me. I feel like she's playing a part and too self-aware.
- Tessa is another one that is just irritating. She's supposed to be all bad and corrupt, but she just comes off as totally forgettable. You want bad and corrupt, try Connie James. That's what I'm talking about.
- Sam Buxton - the Scottish gal. Great voice.
Most medium (!)
All I have left is Helen and Connie. Connie is a played by the wonderful actress Gemma Jones. You love Connie and then you hate her. She is an interesting and thought-provoking person. Her final appearance in "Rain From Heaven" is an amazing part of the coolest episode ever. But I just can't say she is a "favorite" spook, so she gets stuck down here.
Helen. The main thing she is known for is her horrific death, setting the tone for this ruthless tv series early on, so, in that sense, she is important. I can't say she is particularly memorable; she was just beginning and the show was just beginning when she got removed from the squad in this terrible way. Don't hate her, don't love her; don't have much to say about her.
I have also compiled a list of all the Spy Teams that have been on the show (and picked my favorites). You can see that here: Ultimate Spooks'-Lovers Guide to Spy Teams