Show Discussion: Spies

Thursdays, 9pm,
Channel 4

Another year, another entry into the burgeoning Tough Occupational Reality Challenge subgenre, this one is Spies from the makers of the gritty SAS: Who Dares Wins.

This one features fifteen people being put through their paces by three proper spies and being eliminated if they don’t make the grade.

It’s not the first time this sort of thing has been done, there was a very well-regarded show on BBC3 back in 2004 called Spy (UKGameshows link) with a very similar premise, although doubtless this one is going to feel grittier. We didn’t really watch SAS: Who Dares Wins, we had just watched Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week which scratched our endurance itch and was basically the same thing, but it’s been a long time since there was a good show about learning the art of espionage (does Hunted count as espionage?).

It’s only four episodes. The first episode is promising a mole amongst the trainees, which is a fun twist. Let us know what you think.


  1. Michael Jaker says:

    Oh wow! Thanks! I totally LOVED Spy from BBC3 and was coincidentally thinking earlier this week how strange it was that nobody has attempted anything similar since. Really looking forward to this, and hoping it’s not as obviously faked, unbelievable and frankly childish as Hunted, which I found (sadly) unwatchable*.

    * Small rant: I mean c’mon now, a couple in a restaurant have a camera pointed at them while they eat, and the ‘hunters’ decide not to approach, but instead ‘wait’ at the entrance and then, surprise surprise, the couple (and their cameraman) escape through a back exit without the hunters noticing… who believes THAT actually happened? Small rant over 🙂

    • Brig Bother says:

      I tried so hard to like Hunted. I really wanted to like Hunted but it just felt too ridiculous. I can get why people like it though.

      I’m very intrigued to see how they’ve handled it in the US, it starts over there on the 22nd on CBS with a massive american football lead-in:

      • Michael Jaker says:

        Ditto. I used to absolutely love Wanted with Ray Cokes (showing my age there!) but Hunted felt so incredibly artificial. Just too many ‘let’s pretend’ elements. They didn’t have access to any CCTV, they didn’t have ANPR cameras… they just had direct info from the cameramen and production team. Sadly I can only suspend so much disbelief.

        Can’t see it going big in the States. They didn’t warm to the genius of 2013’s Whodunnit, for which I’m still (hopelessly) waiting a 2nd season.

        Come to think of it where’s an updated version of The Murder Game? Loved that, although the end-game was too scary, like Blair Witch scary.

        Good little run of immersive reality game shows though back then c. 2003/2004. 🙂

  2. Brig Bother says:

    I haven’t watched it yet, this didn’t quite make a million last night.

    • David B says:

      Ouch. To be fair, it’s not got anything like the publicity Hunted did. Has there been any PR for it other than trailers?

      • FWIW, I’ve seen it advertised on posters at bus stops in Teesside.

      • Brig Bother says:

        It is up against Celeb BB and some big dramas, and if it’s anything like Hunted will probably add 500-600k on catch-up. But it’s well down on the slot average, which I’m informed is 1.5m.

        • Daniel Peake says:

          It was rather… pedestrian. The problem with spying is that it’s secretive and undercover by nature, and this makes it a challenge to make into compelling viewing. I was quite bored.

          I don’t think Spies quite got there last night, I’m willing to give it one more episode but it was quite a slog for me last night.

          This shows why The Mole is so cleverly produced, it puts spying in an exciting and understandable context.

  3. Brig Bother says:

    Well, this is down to 700k now.

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