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Spooks goes out with a bang

spooks (bbc1, sun) celebrity bainisteoir (rte1, sun) world war ii: the last heroes (ch4, sat) DOUBLE BLUFF: Max Brown and Lara Pulver star in the spy drama

So it was farewell to Harry Pierce and the team in the last ever episodes of Spooks.

Or was it? You can't believe a word out of the Spooks' mouths and there was nothing about this episode to rule out the occasional special.

It ended with Harry (Peter Firth) back at work -- but only after he'd watched his beloved Ruth (Nicola Walker) die in his arms, accidentally stabbed by Sacha with a shard of glass after a twisty game of triple-bluff.

Sacha turned out not to be Harry's son after all, and Sacha's mother and Harry's old Russian love, Elena (Alice Krige), turned out not to be the informant he thought he'd recruited decades before but a double-agent who'd actually been playing him like a fiddle from the start.

A rabid Russian nationalist, she was also the brains behind all the recent terror attacks and had a final one up her sleeve: a guy with a bomb in a suitcase, on an airliner heading for London. Except, as Harry deduced just in the nick of time, it wasn't a bomb but a radio jamming device, and the plan was for British fighter jets to shoot the airliner down, souring relations between Britain and Russia for years.

For her trouble, Elena ended up being strangled by her husband, Ilya, and there was a late, wordless cameo by Matthew Macfadyen as former MI5 agent Tom Quinn, who could be an assassin or a double-agent.

I'll miss Spooks. I didn't watch it religiously over its 10 series but I've always thoroughly enjoyed it, daft plots and all.

This was a gripping and melancholy end. Or was it?

At one point during Celebrity Bainisteoir, Tommy Fleming was "piloting" a flight simulator.

I have no idea why he was doing this or what it has to do with Gaelic football.

Then again, since I know next to nothing about Tommy Fleming, other than that he's a singer who looks like Tintin might look had be been allowed to reach middle age, maybe this has some deep significance.

Or maybe it hasn't.

Later on, Tommy -- safely out of the cockpit now -- duetted with a young chap with a guitar and a beard, and then signed autographs for some schoolgirls.

Do schoolgirls really crave Tommy Fleming's autograph? Do they buy his records?

Can't see them frantically downloading Tommy from iTunes along with Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, can you?

It was then I noticed it was 7.10pm and that Celebrity Bainisteoir, a programme about local Z-list slebs pretending to coach Gaelic football teams which then play one another in pursuit of a made-up cup, had been on for 40 minutes without a ball being kicked, punted or palmed in anger, or even spoken to in a mildly threatening tone of voice.

I know Celebrity Bainisteoir is watched by a lot of country people (and I'm not coming down on country people, by the way-- I live among country people and like most of them) but this doesn't alter the fact that it's cheap and lazy drivel.

With RTE about to start chopping budgets like onions, expect to see a lot more of this type of thing in the years to come.

World War II: The Last Heroes is the story of the conflict told by the men who fought and won it but sadly won't be around much longer.

Their eyewitness accounts are riveting and moving. Sometimes there's relevant archive footage to accompany them; when there's not, the producers have used real explosives to show us what it looks like when a grenade goes off or a mortar shell hits.

It's an unnecessary gimmick. The men's words are more powerful than any number of controlled explosions, filmed in slow motion from innumerable angles, could ever be.



Spooks 3/5 Celebrity Bainisteoir 1/5 World War II: The Last Heroes 4/5