Not Bond or Smiley: MI6 busts spy myths

Nov 26, 2012

Intelligence work, or spying, is not about fast cars, consorting with beautiful women and frequent globetrotting, warns MI6, Britain’s intelligence service closely linked with glamorous fictional spy James Bond.

The success of Skyfall, the latest film in the James Bond franchise, has led the MI6 to counter the notion that spying involves “high-speed chases” and “shoot-outs in casinos” by issuing advertisements on the “qualities of a good spy.” The first thing to know about MI6, says the agency, is that nothing’s obvious. “If the qualities that make a good spy were obvious, they wouldn’t make a very good spy,” MI6 advises in the full-page advertisements in newapapers.

The success of espionage films, especially the James Bond series, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, based on John le Carre’s book of the same name, has not helped the British secret services. A lot of thrill seekers and fantasists turn up for recruitment as spies. The Secret Intelligence Service, which only got its website in 2005, is running a national campaign for recruitment of spies, or intelligence officers.

Having set up a fast-track programme of recruitment of outstating candidates, MI6 is looking for people with interest in global affairs. Unlike Bond, MI6 wants to recruit more ordinary people.

“So while it’s true that the work is often challenging and even exciting, the qualities we look for are more ordinary than you would imagine. And more subtle,” MI6 reveals.

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