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Reality bites: MI6 issues spy warning as James Bond makes a comeback

world Updated: Nov 05, 2012 11:15 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar
Dipankar De Sarkar
Hindustan Times
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The name’s Bond — James Bond — and he has a desk job in a large yellow building just across the river in south London. He rarely gets to travel much these days.

James Bond, the fictional British spy with a licence to kill, is making a killing at the box office around the world. But the roaring success of the latest Bond film has left his real-life paymasters, the MI6 spy agency, in a bit of a muddle: it wants more spies, but cannot offer Bond’s life of glamour.

The new Bond film, Skyfall, has had the highest grossing first week in British box office history of £37.2 million, and critics have anointed the 23rd Bond movie the best ever.

SkyfallAround the world it’s the No.1 box office hit in 25 countries — a fitting tribute to the world’s most famous spy in the 50th year of Bond movies. But the resounding applause may be falling on deaf ears at MI6, Britain’s external spy agency.

Life at the MI6, it announced in a full-page job-ad taken out in the Sunday Times, is not about “high-speed chases and shoot-outs in casinos.”

There are no Aston Martin cars, exploding pens, flirty secretaries and women in bikinis and stilettos.

The advertisement sets out to demolish “pre-conceptions” about what makes a good spy. Apparently, it’s not the qualities that make a Bond — good at sex, shooting and escapades. Nor is the ideal spook anything like writer John Le Carre’s dysfunctional loner, George Smiley.

“In fact you’ll find that we value both emotional intelligence and academic achievement.”

What makes a good spy, according to MI6, are “ordinary” but “subtle” qualities, such as the ability to get on with people from other cultures, to “talk and to listen.” And to be a team player.

And if you thought you’d be jetting off to exotic countries, you’ve been warned: “Certainly, we’re an organisation with an overseas focus, so that does happen sometimes. But while we actively seek people with an interest in global affairs, many operational jobs are in our London HQ and fit well with family life.”