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350429.  Mon Jun 02, 2008 6:23 am Reply with quote

Question. And so we move onto one of Eton’s most famous pupils: What was James Bond’s job?

Forfeit: Secret Agent

Answer: The Security Services call their staff “Officers” – “Agents” are the assets in the field, ie not staff members.

James Bond would be known as an “intelligence officer” in the Security Service, not an agent, secret or otherwise. Officers are highly trained members of the intelligence service, these people are also sometimes known as “illegals” because they do not work with diplomatic immunity. Agents, however, are not members of the service. They are people who clandestinely provide information to an intelligence officer – they were formally known as "covert human intelligence sources.”

The confusion arises because other countries use the same nomenclature with different meanings – for instance in the US, an officer is known as an “agent” while an agent would be called an “informant”.

The names “MI5” and "MI6" are out of date; they are now called The "Security Service" and "Secret Intelligence Service" respectively and have been so since 1931 – M.I. stands for “military intelligence” and is still tolerated as a nickname. The services employ around 3000 people, of which 44% are women. Most are under 40. If you think that a member of your family is an officer, then they may tell you – but only after they’re dead – there is a rumour abound that the Secret Service only employ people under 5"11 but it’s not true. The MI5 and MI6 have no more power to arrest people than any other member of the public, they are not a "secret police force".

There is a chance that one of the panellists may think that James Bond was an ornithologist, in which case we’ll have to begrudgingly give them points, Ian Fleming was a keen twitcher and appropriated the Bird-Watcher’s name for his lead character. He wanted a name that was as ordinary as possible and felt that the name was brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine. (not sure that the “Bond” bit is all that masculine).

Charlie Higson is the author of a number of officially sanctioned “Young Bond” books. He is in good company, the first Bond novel to be published after Flemings death was Colonel Sun, written by Kingsley Amis: Roald Dahl wrote the screenplay for the Bond movie “You only live twice.”

Fan fiction is extremely popular online. There are currently nearly 50,000 original stories written by Harry Potter fans using JK Rowling's characters. "Slash fiction" is a sub-genre in which homoerotic affairs between characters are explored. (esp. Kirk & Spock). Similar fiction without the sexual connotations is called "Ampersand fiction". Fan fiction is probably as old as fiction itself; for instance there are many reworkings of Canterbury Tales.

Further Sources:

Picture Ideas:
A pic of Bond looking particularly secret-agenty
Then a pic of a spy - what about a pic of Alan from the Espionage Show?


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