James Bond has been ‘pure gold’ in helping to recruit MI6 agents abroad, the former head of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) has said.
The Telegraph reports that Ian Fleming’s incredibly popular creation has also been good for morale in the service, according to Sir Colin McColl, who ran MI6 from 1989 to 1994.
Speaking with the BBC, he also praised fellow author John le Carré, whose spy works have also proven to valuable, because they made the public think about the job.
‘It’s absolute gold,’ he said. ‘It spreads the name, the brand, but also the feeling that you’re good, that you know a lot.’
When asked if he thought James Bond in particular had been useful to the SIS, he said: ‘Oh absolutely. It keeps the name going. Everybody watches Bond, so why shouldn’t a little bit of Bond rub off on our reputation?’ However, he was quick to point out that the exploits of 007 weren’t exactly in line with the real-life job description. ‘We’re not in the business of going out and shooting people in dark alleys,’ he said.
Speaking about le Carré’s work, such as 1974’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, he said: ‘There were two feelings in the service over the years. There were those who were furious with John le Carré because he depicts everybody as disagreeable characters, always plotting against each other. But actually, I thought it was terrific because it gave us another couple of generations of being in some way special.’
Keep your browsers locked on the CommanderBond.net main page—and our brand new Twitter feed—for all the latest James Bond-related news.