Thursday, 27 September 2012


Michael Moran falls for a modern secret agent… a girl called Sam

Written by Michael Moran
Michael-Moran1As daft as it was, I was rather fond of the BBC One spy drama Spooks, which was terminated in 2011. So I'm immoderately pleased to herald a possible replacement. Hunted (scheduled for 4 October, 9pm on BBC One) shares a lineage with Spooks but it's a noticeably grander affair. Instead of being confined to the high security Apple Store that doubled as MI5's offi ces, Hunted opens with a thrilling Mission Impossible style adventure in Morocco.

When a TV show opens in a hotel in Tangier, you can be certain that espionage is involved. I sometimes think that without the regular block-bookings from secret-service agents, the entire North African hotel industry would be insolvent within weeks. What you won't be certain about is exactly who is on whose side. Or even, for some of the proceedings, who is alive.

Eventually, things settle down enough for us to decide that the central character is Sam Hunter, played by Australian actress Melissa George. Sam's a modern secret agent in the mould of James Bond, Jason Bourne or Ethan Hunt. That is to say: enigmatic, troubled and fearsomely capable.

Also, like her male counterparts, she's suspiciously easy on the eye for a person who has clearly been either training for huge punch-ups or having huge punch-ups since she was in rompers. But then, no one expects this to be a documentary.

Not only is Sam skilled in small arms and hand-to-hand combat, she's an expert in covert operations, infiltration and subversion. Plus, she's great at accents. Unfortunately, she is not much more sure than we are when it comes to deciding which of her impossibly handsome colleagues to trust. The private-enterprise espionage outfit that she works for, Byzantium, appears to have been infiltrated by some very unsavoury sorts. And I think it's going to take Sam, and ourselves, eight episodes to find out just who they are.

Hunted, while containing some visceral action set pieces, is in no particular hurry to reach a conclusion. The series will pursue one story, as opposed to the 'caper of the week' format we remember from Spooks. There are a number of flashbacks to a mysterious traumatic event in Sam's past, and a long sequence where she just appears to be practising holding her breath in the bath. I'm sure it'll all make sense eventually. I hope so. We've had enough uncertainty lately.

Speaking of uncertainty, I must apologise to readers about the column that appeared in our 14 September issue. I more or less insisted that readers watch Last Tango In Halifax and went on to claim that it would air on the following Tuesday, which it did not. Unfortunately, TV schedules are only finalised about a week before transmission, and in this case a late change was made after The Lady went to press. But it will be shown later in the year – and will still come with the highest recommendation from me.

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