Television: Death to made-up spy software!


Secret State was Channel 4's pitch for a classy conspiracy thriller to match the BBC's brilliant State of Play, which was broadcast almost a decade ago. There are many reasons why it fell short but the most grating one for me was its use of that laziest of television tropes: the computer screen that looks nothing like a computer screen.

When intelligence folk in a shady room apparently running on generator power ordered a phone tap of a pesky journalist, they called up her profile on software that looked like it belonged in an episode of CSI: The Future.

When does television or film drama ever feature a computer that is remotely realistic? I could tolerate the cliché if they didn't also make noises with every keystroke or fancifully fast search of some DNA database. It's as if they all use the same sound effects. It's enough to drive a Spook mad!