If you are not in the UK you may not know of the TV series Spooks. It is popular and award-winning BBC drama series following the work of a group of MI5 spies. It has just returned for its 9th season and many people are tuning in every Monday to see the adventures of Lucas North, Sir Harry Pearce and others. And, each Monday Twitter is flooded with discussions as people watch the show – the hashtag #Spooks usually trending globally during each episode.
We’ve written before about how social media can complement television, and the discussions on Twitter range from people commenting on the characters on what is happening in the plot through to discussions about the actors, sets and other things.
This year, Spooks are trying something different. The main characters are all on Twitter. And they are discussing thing with each other and with other Twitter users. You can find most of them in the following list from Sir Harry Pearce (or @SirHJPearce as he is known): My Colleagues and Others.
It is unclear if these are ‘official’ accounts for the characters (and I would love to find out either way if anybody knows) but the experiment raises an interesting question for me. Notably – should fictional characters in a television series tweet whilst the series is being shown. Social media is a great complement to television, but the danger with having characters tweeting is that they take you out of the fictional construct you are enjoying and, potentially, burst the bubble that has been created on the screens.
For example, at a particularly tense moment in this evening’s episode where new recruit Beth was seemingly betraying her colleagues I tweeted:
I think we all want some answers from @Beth_MI5 #spooks
@mattrhodes mmmm not yet
And I wasn’t the only one to get responses. Beth was busy betraying her colleagues on screen and also engaging on Twitter at the same time. And this is where I think this use of Twitter starts to fall down. I am a huge fan of experimenting in social media, but also a huge fan of Spooks. I enjoy an hour a week of tense drama – losing myself to the plot I see unfolding on my television screen and the characters who are part of it. For me, this use of Twitter bursts that bubble.
I appreciate that I may be alone in this view, that others may enjoy the conversations on Twitter whilst they are also enjoying the action on their television screens. But for me it begins to break the fictional bubble that I have been enjoying – until I see the characters using Twitter on the screens as they respond to me, of course…