I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write a post on Ros; I freakin’ love her! Yes, Lucas is the most fascinating character, Harry is the most integral, but Ros – she is the coolest. In addition to getting the best lines, she is by far one of the finest female characters to have ever graced our TV screens. I’m not afraid to admit that I have a big ole lady crush on Ros (although I’m not sure that I’d want to be stuck in an elevator with her).
I adore Ros for many reasons, primarily because she is distinct from most other so-called “tough” female characters that we often see in cop-style dramas. Although I am not an avid watcher of these kinds of shows, I’ve noticed that the “tough” female characters often go through a story arch where their toughness is either an issue for their peers, or it causes the character to make hard nosed decisions that have disastrous consequences. In other words; their toughness may have got them to where they are, but it is also a problem, and they will pay for it. It’s like Calamity Jane all over again. The message is – toughness in ladies is not all that attractive. It’s OK to be tough, but only a little, and not at the expense of feminine graces; you’re a woman so you must be nice.
Ros on the other hand, is admired for her tough, ruthless demeanor. She’s the stuff of legend, not derision. She is feared, not mocked. If she is disliked, it is because she is genuinely formidable, not because she is stupidly stubborn. Ros’s colleagues do not patronise her by suggesting she should soften up, or imply that ambition has diminished her feminine qualities.
Most importantly, for me, Ros is unapologetic about her toughness. Unlike other female characters of a similar position in other TV shows, Ros does not reflect on whether she’s been too tough in certain situations, or worry about how others view her. As she said plainly to the Home Secretary, she couldn’t care less about other people’s opinion of her; and this is what makes Ros a truly unique female character. Impression management and concern over what others think of them is a frequent female preoccupation – in real life as much as on screen. Ros is truly liberated from this aspect of the collective female psyche. As far as female television characters go, this is such a refreshing and welcome change.
What you do think of Ros?
Earlier this year I spoiled myself with the Spooks box set containing seasons 1-7 (The Australian version, unfortunately, so some DVD extras are missing – but more on that TRAVESTY another time). Since then I’ve been making my way through each series and are presently poised at 6.7. I hadn’t seen many of the episodes since they were first aired, so it was great to catch up with the old characters again, especially Zoe and Danny, and the handsome Zaf who’s time on Spooks ended too soon.
The thing that struck me most about going back over the old series was how different Harry was back in the early days. It wasn’t a major difference, but it was certainly apparent to my keen eye and ear. I couldn’t help but notice a few discordant notes between the Harry of old and the Harry we know and love today. This contrast probably seemed more strident because I entered the Spooks rewatch off the back of watching series seven repeatedly. Harry is a finely honed creature by this stage, so comparisons are unfair – but I’ll make em anyway!
It was my impression that the writers didn’t really have a complete handle on Harry’s character until late in series four. And I stress – this post is not about Peter Firth’s portrayal of Harry, it’s about the scripts. In the earlier series of Spooks Harry is presented as an ever so slightly out of touch character, and this dynamic between his humble field officers and the man in charge was played to a bit.
The moments that struck an odd cord with me in particular were in episode 3.4 which explores Harry’s relationship with his daughter. Blurring professional and personal lines seemed unlike Harry. He doesn’t always play by the book but when he does diverge it’s usually with good reason – this didn’t seem like one of them.
And around mid season 4 (can’t recall the exact episode) I was surprised to hear Harry make the incredibly lame suggestion to Adam Carter to buy his wife Fiona chocolates for her birthday (or maybe it was a wedding anniversary, can’t remember!). His naivety about the lameness of chocolates as a gift did not seem consistent with the Harry of today – an echo of the slightly out of the touch Harry, perhaps.
These are all minor details, but some that resonated with me, nonetheless. From season five onwards, all concerned seemed to have “found” Harry. I recall Peter Firth saying in an interview (in one of the DVD extras) that Spooks is better when it avoids stories that go too deeply into the personal lives of the characters – I couldn’t help but wonder if that was a comment about the episode concerning Harry and his daughter.
What do you think? How has Harry changed over the years?
Images courtesy of peterfirth.co.uk