Spy chief pays secret visit to No Time To Die James Bond set

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Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig

A British spy chief secretly visited the set of the forthcoming James Bond film and donated his famous green-ink pen to his onscreen counterpart, The Telegraph can reveal.

Sir Alex Younger was invited to Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire to tour some of the backdrops used in No Time To Die before he stepped down as head of MI6 last September.

The former “C” was said to have been eager to see the office set of “M”, Ian Fleming’s fictional head of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), who is played by Bafta-winning actor Ralph Fiennes in the latest 007 film.

Noticing there was no stationery on M’s desk, Sir Alex is understood to have donated his own pen - filled with green ink as is customary for SIS chiefs - as a memento to add authenticity to the movie.

Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes

The ex-spy boss will learn on Tuesday night whether the pen makes it into shot in the film, as he is expected to attend the world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

During his tour of the studio, he chatted with Fiennes, Bond actor Daniel Craig and other members of the 007 cast. All actors and staff on set were sworn to secrecy about the visit.

The suggestion that Sir Alex, then the only publicly avowed intelligence officer in SIS, could make a cameo appearance as an extra in the film was considered but ultimately declined, it is understood.

While he is a fan of the Bond films, Sir Alex has spoken previously about his ambivalence towards Britain’s most famous fictional spy and the way the character shapes perceptions of the real-life MI6.

In 2016, he remarked: “I’m conflicted about Bond. He has created a powerful brand for MI6: as C, the real-life version of M, there are few people who will not come to lunch if I invite them. Many of our counterparts envy the sheer global recognition of our acronym.”

Then spy chief, he acknowledged that “a few aspects of the genre” did resonate with his real-life experience of the agency, citing “fierce dedication to the defence of Britain”.

He added: “The real-life ‘Q’ would want me to say that we too enjoy - and, indeed, need - a deep grasp of gadgetry. But that’s pretty much where the similarity ends. And, were Bond to apply to join MI6 now, he would have to change his ways.”

Richard Moore, Sir Alex’s successor at the helm of SIS, is also a Bond fan. In April he professed his love for the films but insisted their portrayal of intelligence work was a far cry from reality.

Richard Moore
Richard Moore

“There are certain elements, echoes sometimes of that, but no. James Bond is wonderfully insubordinate to M, isn’t he, and I feel that doesn’t go on in my own service,” he said in an interview.

“Bond is a double-edged thing for us, but it is inescapable and I am very much looking forward to the next film. I love the films.”

He revealed that his agency had taken inspiration from 007 by advertising for a “director-general Q”, a tech wizard needed to “use and harness technology”.

The title of the role was taken from the film, he confessed. “In this one, life imitates art,” Mr Moore told Times Radio. “We were reshaping it a few years ago and we couldn’t think of the right name for it and in the end we thought ‘Well, come on, let’s go for it’, and so we decided to call it Q.”

Asked if he had a real-life Miss Moneypenny, however, he replied: “Erm - I have a wonderful private office. I am not entirely sure how they would react to being described as being Moneypenny.”

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