James Bond is widely considered to be the poster boy for all things espionage. With a history spanning over six decades, it’s safe to assume that Bond would have at least mastered the basics by now and would have no difficulty walking into any spy agency in the world.
Or would he?
Last Thursday, Britain’s enigmatic chief of Secret Intelligence Service, Alex Younger, acknowledged that while the Bond franchise has helped to establish the agency as one of the most recognisable of its kind in the world, it’s come at a price.
“I’m conflicted about Bond. He has created a powerful brand for MI6: as C, the real-life version of M, there are few people who will not come to lunch if I invite them. Many of our counterparts envy the sheer global recognition of our acronym.”
“And to be fair, there are a few aspects of the genre that do resonate in real life: fierce dedication to the defence of Britain, for example. The real life ‘Q’ would want me to say that we too enjoy – and, indeed, need – a deep grasp of gadgetry. But’s that’s pretty much where the similarity ends. And, were Bond to apply to join MI6 now, he would have to change his ways,” Younger said.
It turns out that changing his ‘ways’ roughly translates to “This blokes a bit too loose to get a job here, he should probably chill on the whole ‘breaking every law in the civilised world’ thing and while he’s at it, probably stop trying to root any woman who glances at him,” … Or something like that.
Younger went on to speak about how the Bond franchise has actually led people to believe that there’s a checklist of qualities that are needed to work for the allusive spy agency when that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“For too long – often because of the fictional stereotypes I have mentioned – people have felt that there is a single quality that defines an MI6 officer, be it an Oxbridge education or a proficiency in hand-to-hand combat. This is, of course, patently untrue. There is no standard MI6 officer.”
So there you go, it’s actually possible to become an MI6 agent after all. HMU when you start looking for agents with very few employable qualities and a dislike for physical activity.