New Spooks star Richard Armitage has revealed he was reluctant to take over from Rupert Penry-Jones as leading man in the BBC One TV series.

Richard, who makes his Spooks debut as agent Lucas North on Monday, 27 October, said he was nervous about how his performance would affect the series.

“Taking over from Rupert is such a tall order,” he said “so I was really conscious of that and didn’t want to be responsible for bringing the series down. If it closes at the end of series seven, it’s not a good thing to have on the CV!”

“I did take time to think about the job, and I did hesitate for a second.”

He added: “I was a big fan of the show when it started, but because of being busy, I hadn’t seen it for a while so I didn’t know if it had gone bad.”

But 37-year-old Richard, who also appeared in the BBC One’s Robin Hood and the recent adaptation of North And South, was persuaded to take the part by Spooks’ producers.

“Once they bent my ear, I was gagging to be involved. There’s nothing I can really compare Spooks to on British TV.”

Richard – who plays a top MI5 agent returning to Britain after eight years detention in a Russian prison – is hopeful that he will be a long-term member of the Spooks cast.

“I’m definitely keen to do more,” he said in an interview with the Chester Chronicle. “I just feel like I’m scratching the surface with this, and I still feel there’s more mileage in the character than just this one series.

“Then again, I don’t know what’s happening at the end of the series. As I said, I haven’t seen that eighth script yet.”