Spy - In The Press

Since Pick TV is handing over Thursday evenings to Sky programming, two comedies are currently being shown to Freeview audiences for the first time. One of these is Spy, a pre-watershed sitcom starring Darren Boyd.

For those who haven't seen the past two seasons, Boyd plays Tim, a divorced man working in an electronic store, who just wants to please his precocious son Marcus (Jude Wright). Tim decides to get himself a new job, but due to a mix up he ends up being recruited into MI5. And due to the Official Secrets Act, he can't tell Marcus about his exciting work...

The opening episode had a fair few laughs in it, mostly visual. It has to be said that some scenes, especially the one in which Tim takes an exam and covers his desk in stationary and good luck items, reminds me somewhat of the opening episode of Mr Bean which features a similar scene, albeit with the absence of studio laughter (which some would argue to be an improvement).

The characters, however, are the key. Tim's MI5 boss, "The Examiner" (Robert Lindsey), is a fun creation and from what I understand is very good. However, Marcus was totally unbearable; I just didn't like him at all. It's a pity that Tim didn't have an actual licence to kill and do away with the annoying little monster.

I'd like to think I'd keep watching Spy, but to be honest Marcus is so off-putting I'm not sure if I would...

Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats, 4th February 2013

The stringently funny comedy ends its second series with an episode that, in proper Christmas-special tradition, is twice the usual length and 40 per cent sillier. Ten-year-old Marcus (the freakishly good Jude Wright) auditions fellow pupils for a seasonal musical, with customary ruthlessness: "There are prisoners in Guantánamo being waterboarded who sound better than you..." Even his dad Tim fails to win a part, despite Darren Boyd unleashing a stunning singing voice.

When MI5 agent Tim's office affair with Caitlin (Rebekah Staton) is discovered, there are guns drawn and truths told. Back at school, a talent shortage on the big night means desperate time-filling, à la gourmet night at Fawlty Towers.

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 26th December 2012

As the MI5 comedy ends its series with a Christmas special, we meet the stars behind the show's screen romance.

Written by Isobel Finbow. The Radio Times, 26th December 2012

A Bafta winner and nominated for (but didn't win) an International Emmy last month, this espionage comedy caper certainly has its admirers even if some may find it overly silly. That said, the cast cannot be faulted, chief among them are the excellent Darren Boyd as the hapless, accidental spy Tim, and Robert Lindsay as his maniac boss, "The Examiner". In tonight's episode Tim gets just the required push needed to try to rekindle his romance with fellow spook Caitlin (Rebekah Staton) after he discovers he's on an assassin's hit list. Meanwhile, the precocious Marcus (the often scene-stealing Jude Wright), finds the perfect moment to humiliate a rival at school as he again seeks the affections of Justine (Ellie Hopkins).

Simon Horsford, The Daily Telegraph, 20th December 2012

TV Choice asked Darren Boyd to blow a few official secrets about the Spy Christmas special...

TV Choice Magazine, 11th December 2012

Tim is invited to the summer ball at Marcus's school but his ongoing datelessness prompts cruel taunts from Portis and the other spies in the office. Meanwhile, Phillip is ousted from the school in Mrs Godfrey's own night of the long knives while her daughter Bernice coldly swats away the boyish advances of Chris. Mathew Baynton as Chris steals this episode when he fashions his feelings of rejection into an impressive musical missile and aims it straight at Bernice's head. Silly and brilliant. Silliant.

John Robinson, The Guardian, 3rd December 2012

Nope, they still haven't done a weak episode. This week, insane MI5 chief the Examiner (Robert Lindsay) has made an unbroadcastable recruitment video, so Tim and Caitlin step in. But they can't act until they assume ludicrous, sexed-up B-movie personas.

The role-playing reignites the spark between them and takes Tim out of his normal, footling self. He sticks with the stubble, blond wig and leather jacket even after filming. He's a new man, and Darren Boyd is a new variety of hilarious.

Meanwhile, Marcus is on a father-and-son TV quiz. Naturally, he's got a ringer in to replace his embarrassing dad, but the laws of sitcom say the two storylines must meet.

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 9th November 2012

Spy has invested in a top-notch ensemble, but the star is still Bafta-winner Darren Boyd as rubbish spy Tim. All Boyd's strengths are in evidence this week: rising irritation as Tim tries to give a talk at his son Marcus's school; pratfalling as he tries to conceal that he's taken Marcus with him to the office, which isn't really feasible at MI5; and a glimmer of lovable warmth and vulnerability as the fiasco brings father and child closer.

Meanwhile, suddenly putting a character on drugs might normally be an unacceptable short cut, but when it's Robert Lindsay, trouserless and rattling with amphetamines, it's more than forgivable. He keeps thinking he's seen a demonic boy in the corridor, which of course he has.

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 2nd November 2012

Accidental spy Tim (Darren Boyd), still hoping to rekindle office romance with Caitlin (Rebekah Staton), has the perfect assignment fall in his lap: shielding an at-risk, incredibly hot witness (Anna Skellern) in his home. Making his colleague jealous by pretending would be enough, but Elaine proves willing and, indeed, insatiable.

She's also dangerously barking, culminating in a confidently over-the-top scene in a restaurant that could be cringeworthy if the cast weren't so good. It climaxes with a line that caused major corpsing on set. You'll know it when they get there.

Tim's best mate, ex-wife and boss all observe his new relationship, in an episode that makes good use of that visual gag where you don't initially know certain characters are present in a scene. Chief lurker is monstrously irresponsible therapist Owen, played with manic relish by Miles Jupp, the latest addition to a fearsomely good ensemble.

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 26th October 2012

Overall, Spy's back and I'm sure it's going to delight those who loved the first series. There were enough improvements to tempt me back next week, but I still don't think it takes full advantage of itself.

Written by Dan Owen. Dan's Media Digest, 20th October 2012

It takes confidence to be as silly as this charming spy thriller.

Written by Sam Wollaston. The Guardian, 20th October 2012

After years of toiling in the background, Darren Boyd's Bafta for comedy performance in Spy was a welcome surprise. Series two brings more of the same, showcasing his aptitude for physical and verbal comedy, even if the excellent Robert Lindsay is still used only sparingly. Accidental MI5 agent Tim (Boyd) is back from holiday and given his first interrogation, while inadvertently reuniting unrequited love Caitlin (Rebekah Staton) with her ex. The star of the show is probably Jude Wright as Tim's poisonous son, Marcus, this week given a slippery (and therefore entirely worthy) adversary in the election for president of the school council. That said boy's name is Nick is milked to full effect in this age of non-existent Cleggism. The novelty value may have worn off, but Spy is still superior family-friendly fare.

Gabriel Tate, Time Out, 19th October 2012

Series two of the unerringly funny comedy about an idiot mistakenly hired by MI5. Darren Boyd won a Bafta for the lead role of bumbling Tim in the first series - but during the course of the run, an embarrassment of other good characters emerged.

So while Tim's ongoing efforts to snare his gorgeous colleague Caitlin (Rebekah Staton) and avoid being corrupted by his insane boss (Robert Lindsay) are still funny, they are subplots here.

Instead we focus on Tim's young son Marcus, played by the superb Jude Wright. Usually the most terrifyingly assured male on TV, Marcus now finds his opponent in the election for school president is a sharper, slicker version of himself. An über-Marcus.

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 19th October 2012

Darren Boyd picked up a Bafta for his performance as hapless computer salesman Tim, who has accidentally been recruited as an MI5 operative, in this slight comedy. It's now back for a second series, and tonight Tim's precocious son, Marcus (Jude Wright), finds he has a rival in his bid to be school president. Boyd is good, as is Robert Lindsay as his odd boss, The Examiner, but it's often Wright who steals the show.

Simon Horsford, The Daily Telegraph, 18th October 2012

The Bafta-winning Spy star on spiritual gurus, Whites and odd auditions.

Time Out, 16th October 2012

Spy star Rebekah Staton says she could not be more different from her character - as she cannot keep secrets.

The Sun, 15th October 2012

The second series of this sitcom has intimations of a soap; despite being set in the world of espionage, this takes a back seat to day-to-day romantic and family intrigues. A strong cast is headed by Darren Boyd as Tim, whose precocious son Marcus tonight makes his aggressive bid to become school president. Mark Heap is the hapless headmaster, Miles Jupp plays the appalling Owen and Robert Lindsay also features, looking like Jon Culshaw impersonating Alan Sugar. A running joke involving a hooded interrogee is the highlight of this week's silliness.

David Stubbs, The Guardian, 15th October 2012

Spy star Rebekah Staton caused chaos on the set of the latest series - when she almost fired a loaded stunt gun by mistake.

The Sun, 11th October 2012

Darren Boyd and Rebekah Staton talk to TV Choice ahead of Series 2...

Written by Martina Fowler. TV Choice Magazine, 9th October 2012

The season closes on one of the better of Sky's new comedies, the Spook spoof Spy, which features former Green Wing actor Darren Boyd as hapless loser Tim, who has somehow managed to land a job at MI5. Tonight's closer finds Tim receiving two intriguing offers from his boss, The Examiner (Robert Lindsay), while also facing a custody hearing over his son.

Simon Horsford, The Daily Telegraph, 17th November 2011

For a series called Spy, there's precious little actual spying going on in this sitcom - unless you count its trademark camera trick of having characters suddenly appear out of thin air.

But there's something quite heroic about the way the performances stretch to cover the gaps in logic.

Jude Wright, who plays Tim's precocious son Marcus, continues to get all the best scenes but the sheer number of scenes featuring school-kids is starting to make me think this show should really be pitched at the Horrible Histories generation.

Take out all the sex and drugs and Spy would be the perfect comedy for any discerning nine-year-old.

Jane Simon, The Daily Mirror, 11th November 2011

It's still lame and ill-conceived on so many levels, but I hope someone recognises Jude Wright's skills as a young actor and gives him a sitcom to headline.

Written by Dan Owen. Dan's Media Digest, 5th November 2011

I'm a glutton for punishment, you might say, but I'm fascinated by terrible shows that other people seem to like. Or perhaps just tolerate better because their tastes are "peculiar", don't care to see how something can be improved, or don't notice the many mistakes it's making. Spy's third episode was certainly the best of the bunch-so it's improving every week, which is something to be grateful for.

Written by Dan Owen. Dan's Media Digest, 29th October 2011

Ex-computer salesman turned accidental spy Tim finds his luck is in this week when The Examiner trains the new spies on hacking. Tim's knowledge of basic computing marks him out as the class Top Gun, but unfortunately basic computing is as far as his "expertise" goes. He also manages to get himself into strife with his son when he doctors his school records, downgrading the precocious little tyke as revenge. Spy performs some reliably familiar comedy moves but it's all held together nicely by Darren Boyd's likable turn as Tim, who's only the lead in this show because his character is marginally less stupid than those around him.

Phelim O'Neill, The Guardian, 28th October 2011

Vaguely better than the awful premiere, but that's strangely because most of episode 2 didn't have anything to do with the actual spy conceit.

Written by Dan Owen. Dan's Media Digest, 22nd October 2011

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