Thanks Bond, but no one wants to spy.

For all their apparent fascination for James Bond’s daring heroics and glamorous lifestyle, it seems that few Britons want to join the real world of spying. So, even as the latest Bond film, Skyfall, opened to packed houses and rave reviews (hailed as the “most British” of all Bond movies, despite Heineken beer dethroning the good old martini as the super sleuth’s favourite drink), Britain’s intelligence services were reported to be facing a serious staff shortage.

Both MI5 and MI6 were said to be struggling not only to attract talent but to retain their existing sleuths. MI6 went to the extent of taking out full-page newspaper advertisements promising a “fast track programme” for “outstanding candidates”. In a pointed to pitch to women, it said: “We don’t care what sex you are or where you’re from, so long as you’re a British national.”

Recently, John Sawers, head of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), suggested that people were reluctant to join intelligence services because they felt that the rewards were not commensurate with the risks the job involved. “People are less likely to go the extra mile and do the more dangerous thing or take that added level of risk if they feel that they are not being recognised for it and that their rewards are somehow inadequate,” he told MPs.

Another deterrent, it is believed, is that in the real world spying entails more than just sipping martinis and cavorting with women.

Keywords: James Bond


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