MI6 seeks real-life 'Q' to equip UK spies with gadgets and gizmos

Job of tech chief puts role immortalised in James Bond movies up for grabs

Actor Desmond Llewelyn as 'Q' in 1977 James Bond 'The Spy Who Loved Me' demonstrates his wares. Alamy
Actor Desmond Llewelyn as 'Q' in 1977 James Bond 'The Spy Who Loved Me' demonstrates his wares. Alamy

The head of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service said on Thursday the spy agency is hunting a new technology chief to provide UK spooks with the sort of gadgets and gizmos familiar to James Bond fans worldwide.

"We’re looking for a new ‘Q’. If you want to serve your country by helping MI6 to develop the operational technology of the future, please take a look," tweeted Richard Moore, who became head of the service in July last year.

In the Bond films, Q furnishes agent 007 with an array of gadgets: from an Aston Martin sports car with passenger ejector seat, to a ballpoint pen that turns into a grenade.

In real life, the position requires less of a mad inventor and more of a clear-headed strategist.

Q's 'Bag Of Tricks' is displayed during the exhibition "The Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style" in Paris. Reuters
Q's 'Bag Of Tricks' is displayed during the exhibition "The Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style" in Paris. Reuters

According to the advertisement, the successful candidate will be "responsible for the teams who create and adopt technologies to enable [MI6's] mission against the UK’s hardest adversaries".

"You turn disruptive technologies from threats to our operations into opportunities, putting MI6 at the leading edge of digital innovation," it says.

The on-screen Q has been played by men such as Desmond Llewelyn, Geoffrey Bayldon and John Cleese, but in 2017 a former MI6 chief disclosed that the job was actually held by an unidentified woman.

John Cleese as 'Q' introduces Pierce Brosnan to a high-tech Aston Martin in Die Another Day. The real-life 'Q' won't be so hands on. Alamy
John Cleese as 'Q' introduces Pierce Brosnan to a high-tech Aston Martin in Die Another Day. The real-life 'Q' won't be so hands on. Alamy

The advert warned that the successful candidate would "not be publicly avowed", while there was no mention of any ability to design watches with lasers or bagpipes that turn into flamethrowers.

"Were you expecting an exploding pen? We don't really go in for that any more," Ben Whishaw, the current screen version of Q told a disgruntled Daniel Craig as Bond in the 2012 film Skyfall.

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Updated: April 30, 2021 02:13 PM

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