Have I mentioned MI-5 is better than 24 recently?

Spoiler alert – if you haven’t seen any of season 7 of MI5 (Spooks) don’t read on.

For those of you that have seen or are in the middle of an unbelievably gripping season 7 on public television stations nationwide, you no doubt are aware of Lucas LucasNorthtortureNorth’s return to the safe confines of MI5 from the hands of the Russians at the beginning of the season. During episode three, which will be broadcast on Thursday, May 20 on KERA/Dallas, North’s 8-year stint in a Russian prison catches up to him in flashbacks of some of what he endured during that time. But, that’s not nearly the story here. Seems as though Armitage was willing to go to great lengths to ensure maximum authenticity for the viewer at home.

MI5 = A for authenticity

As reported in 2008 by numerous media publications in the UK (see below), Richard Armitage, the actor who portrayed North, agreed to undergo controversial real-life waterboarding during the taping of the scenes for authenticity. At the time it was to air in the UK, the BBC screened the controversial interrogation footage to determine if it should air.

According to Armitage, consultants from both the CIA and the FSB, the Russian intelligence service, assured him that waterboarding was much more of a psychological device of extracting information. According to Kudos Film & TV, producers of MI5 (Spooks), there was a health & safety advisor on the set and the actor was totally in charge during the filming to the extent that there was an agreed upon signal that Armitage could end the procedure should it become too much to handle. Evidently, the signal was given by Armitage somewhere between 3 and 5 seconds. Click the links below for articles revealing the details of the production.


Daily Mail


So, either watch this week, go back and watch again or read the articles above and ask yourself….would Jack Bauer ever agree to do this for authenticity sake? I think not. Am curious to know what you thought after seeing or reading the articles.

In: Action/Drama,Actors/Actresses

  • angieklong

    So glad to hear that you folks are getting to enjoy the wonderful series Spooks/MI-5 featuring Richard as Lucas North. Our PBS station here in Alabama hasn’t gotten past the first three or four seasons, but I have series 3-7 on DVD, series 8 on order and eagerly await seeing Spooks 9, which airs in the fall.
    Knowing that Richard also has a bit of a phobia about water makes watching that waterboarding scene all the more harrowing. (His willingness to go the extra mile to make it authentic is characteristic of his work in general, by the way, as witnessed by his transformation into an SAS soldier for his latest project, Strike Back).

    No matter what the CIA or FSB say, that scene in Spooks convinced me water boarding IS torture.

    And I have to confess I have never watched 24, but I doubt it could provide any more edge-of-your-seat thrills or nail-biting suspense than Spooks does at its best.