Who has got what it takes to be a spy?
When you’re watching an espionage thriller, it can be easy to daydream about how much more exciting your life would be if you were a spy.
Some people may even come to the conclusion that they would do a better job than James Bond, who, when he’s not giving out his real name, hasatendencyto draw attention to himself.
Over the past four weeks, Spies (Thursday, Channel 4, 9pm) has given 15 ordinary men and women the chance to find out if they really do have what it takes to join Britain’ s secret intelligence services in their invisible war against a multitude of hidden threats.
Under the watchful gaze of a team of former spies, known as Control, who between them have 45 years of experience of working British Intelligence, the wouldbe recruits have undergone a series of exercises based on the Intelligence Officer New Entry Course.
From the very beginning, the aspiring spies have been tested not just on their intelligence, powers of persuasion and talent for concealment, but also their character, wit and values.
Duringtheseries, they’ve had to follow a target, extract intelligence from unwitting strangers and explore the moralam biguities of their job. It’s beenastressful process, and the candidates haven’t evenbeenable to turn to each other for support, as Control not only placed a mole in the ranks during the first episode, but have more recently been encouraging some of the remaining contestants to act as informers and reveal who they think are the weakest trainees.
The strain is definitely showing in this concluding episode, which starts with six trainees still on the course - but only four will be taking part in the final challenge, a mission on foreign soil that has been designed to recreate the conditions for operating as an intelligence officer in a hostile environment.
The final four are dispatched to Marrakech, where they must each work alone using limited instructions. On arrival, they hand their passports to an unknown contact before using their alias documentation to check in to a nearby hotel - which has been secretly rigged with cameras by Control, who will be monitoring how the trainees cope as they ratchet up the pressure and suspicion.
Despite the rising paranoia, the trainees do their best to act naturally, but for one candidate in particular, it’s getting tough to maintain their composure.
And the situation only becomes more fraught when the trainees put their anti-surveillance skills to the test and head out for a meeting with an agent.
The exercise takes a twist when they are ‘arrested’ and taken to a warehouse to face hostile interviewing underextreme conditions.
With just three of the original 15 making it to this final stage, Control must decide who has shown that they have the capabilities to make it in the world of modern espionage. Let’s just hope the winner is at least offered a dry martini - shaken, not stirred - to celebrate.