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James Bond has been `pure gold` for MI6 recruitment

10-Aug-2009 • Bond Style

James Bond has been "pure gold" in helping to recruit agents abroad, the former head of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) has said - reports The Telegraph.

The image of Ian Fleming's character has also been good for morale in the service, said Sir Colin McColl, who ran MI6 from 1989 to 1994.

Speaking to the BBC, he also said that John le Carré's more critical take on life as a spy had also been valuable, because it made the public think about the job.

Talking about such writers as Fleming and le Carré, Sir Colin said: "It's absolute gold. It spreads the name, the brand, but also the feeling that you're good, that you know a lot."

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 noted that real agents were nothing like the suave spy. "We're not in the business of going out and shooting people in dark alleys," he said.

Of le Carré's work, such as 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."

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