MI5 might not have selected Sean Connery: Hollywood spy vs reality of espionage jobs


What are the quintessential features of James Bond? Allow me to explain. Mostly suited up, sporting a crisp bow tie, uber cool sunglasses and an unmissable personality. Everything that a real MI5 spy would keep away from. To cut a long story short, James Bond would make a bad spy, a stance that intelligence officials have held consistently for centuries. To corroborate this claim, MI5, the United Kingdom’s domestic counter-intelligence and security agency has put out a list of basic requirements for the role of a spy, and James Bond is clearly failing on several counts. 

The £37,757-a-year role is largely focused on “blending into the environment naturally wherever you are”. So, 007 aspirants aren’t allowed to be overly tall or to have any identifying traits, such as tattoos on their hands, faces, or necks.

Women must be under 5ft 10in and men under 6ft 2in to be considered for the position. Sean Connery, the first to portray James Bond on the silver screen, would therefore have been on the very thin end of the scale at 6 feet 2 inches and unlikely to have been hired.

Daniel Craig, the most recent James Bond actor, who stands 5 feet 10 inches tall, would be a good fit.

The most accurate espionage depictions were found in Alfred Hitchcock’s films, whose best-known pre-war espionage thrillers included, ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ (1934) and ‘The 39 Steps’ (1935). These movies introduced a concept that later became commonplace in spy flicks: the non-spy who gets caught up in a scheme and is confused by what is happening. 

The representation of espionage had advanced to the point that movie and TV makers were using a strategy way too far from reality by the late 1950s. These acts became material for humour or fantastical stories with a comedic twist rather than being depicted as a serious and covert endevour. James Bond, the protagonist of 14 novels by British intelligence officer Ian Fleming, stands out as the best illustration of this pattern.

Bond, Agent 007 has a licence to kill, and he makes the most of it in his unending operations against the Soviet-style group known as Smersh—using both that licence and his signature finesse of coming out unhurt from every adventure. 

Well, good for the reel-life Bond, but if anyone were to apply for the position of an MI5 spy, shed those Bond like idiosyncrasies and blend in with the crowd. 

Also WATCH | WION Fineprint: Russia says female Ukrainian spy killed daughter of Putin’s ally

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