James Bond is still integral for MI6 recruitment

Gregory Wakeman
Daniel Craig as James Bond

James Bond’s impact on UK pop culture is immeasurable. But this goes way beyond the 24 movies that have been released.

In fact, Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig have made life as 007 look so appealing that the character still plays an integral role in MI6 recruitment, even though his work bears little to no resemblance to the work of a real spy.

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This was the claim made by Dr Rory Cormac, who is an associate professor of international relations with a specialty in secret intelligence at Nottingham University, at the Hay Festival. But rather than being peeved by James Bond’s unrealistic portrayal of the spy, MI6 are huge fans of the positive branding that the films and Ian Fleming’s books have provided.

“They like the image it creates, as Bond is linked to British omnipotence and omniscience. It is a great recruitment sergeant as well – although a lot of people who want to become James Bond get weeded out very early, as they are psychopaths.”

BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: (CHINA OUT) British actor Daniel Craig promotes new film "Spectre" directed by British actor and director Sam Mendes on November 10, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

In fact, according to the Guardian, Cormac even revealed that intelligence officials from other countries sometimes use the legendary character as an ice-breaker when they come face to face with MI6 agents.

“When MI6 agents are trying to make contact with people in far-flung countries as part of operations, they have been known to be greeted, ‘Hello, Mr Bond!’ It helps to break the ice.”

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Back in 2016 Alex Younger, the chief of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, wasn’t quite as positive about the impact of James Bond.

Because while he admitted that Bond has created a “powerful brand for MI6” he warned that the films have made people believe “there is a single quality that defines an MI6 officer,” which is “patently untrue” as “there is no standard MI6 officer.”

We’ll see if more nuance is added to the franchise when James Bond 25 is released on April 8, 2020.