WMFacts: Top 5 Facts About MI6

Credits: Ashley Bowman Sean Harris
Written by Richard Bush If we told you these facts, I’m afraid we’d have to kill you! Just kidding, Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we are counting down the top 5 things about the Secret Intelligence Service - also known as MI6. With the motto Semper Occultus, which means “Always Secret”, little is known about this covert spy division, but these nuggets of knowledge are a real eye opener. Also, just to confirm, for this list we are focussing just on MI6 - MI5 is a whole other matter Special thanks to our user Freemantle_uk for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 5 Facts About the MI6


If we told you these facts, I’m afraid we’d have to kill you! Just kidding, Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we are counting down the top 5 things about the Secret Intelligence Service - also known as MI6.

With the motto Semper Occultus, which means “Always Secret”, little is known about this covert spy division, but these nuggets of knowledge are a real eye opener. Also, just to confirm, for this list we are focussing just on MI6 - MI5 is a whole other matter.

#5: MI6 Headquarters


Any fan of the James Bond franchise will recognise this Thames-based building from “The World is Not Enough” and “Skyfall”. But it wasn’t just movie magic, it’s a real building. Used as MI6 headquarters as of 1995, a year after the agency went public, the SIS building is located at Vauxhall Cross on the River Thames in London. It’s said that most of the building is actually based underground and that the windows are triple glazed as a means of added security. It’s also rumoured that it features a tunnel leading to Whitehall. Just like in cinema, the building has been targeted a few times in its history, including a rocket launcher attack in the year 2000 and a parcel bomb in 2007.

#4: The Many Different Agencies


MI6 and MI5 are the two core branches of the British Secret Service, but it wasn't always that way - there have been many agencies absorbed by the MI6 and MI5 over the years. These included the likes of MI2, which focussed on Russian and Scandinavian intelligence, MI4 that handled aerial reconnaissance and MI7 that dealt with propaganda. So what does the MI6 do? Well, MI6 focuses specifically on overseas affairs and intelligence, a bit like the CIA in the United States. Still, nobody quite knows how many people work for the MI6 or who those people are.

#3: Celebrity Secret Agents


You frequently hear of certain authoritative political figures or even actors and writers being recruited or having previously worked for the MI6. Well, in some cases, these stories are actually true, particularly with regards to writers. One of the most famous examples includes world renowned author John le Carré, who penned books including “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”, which went on to be a hollywood blockbuster. John le Carré worked for both the MI6 and MI5, and it was only when he was betrayed by double agent Kim Philby that he left the spy game and became a full-time novelist. Outside of the MI6, other famous writers/British agents have included Roald Dahl, who worked alongside the agency, and a rather famous spy writer Ian Fleming, which brings us on nicely to our next fact.

#2: James Bond, Super Spy


James Bond creator Ian Fleming did in fact have his own stint as a spy working for British Naval Intelligence, which helped him acquire the knowledge and inspiration to create fictional agent 007. Although Bond is a fictional secret agent - named after an ornithologist by the way - his traits and stories are based in fact, mainly the people Fleming worked with in the Navy. These include Conrad O'Brien-ffrench, Wilfred Dunderdale, Patrick Dalzel-Job and even his elder brother Peter Fleming. Fleming even incorporated a few of his own personal traits into the Bond character, including his love for gambling and even his use of the same toiletries.

#1: The Gadgets


Not to go on about James Bond, but he is one of the main reasons we are even talking about MI6 today, and one of the main motivators for that is the cool gadgets he’s used over the years. The craziest thing though is that real MI6 agents have actually used gadgets. Given, they’re not as sophisticated, or superfluous, as a laser watch, but the likes of a matchbox with a hidden camera, cigarettes laced with cocaine and even a pen that fires tear gas were all very real tools used by agents. Secret compartments in everyday objects, like shaving kits and drinking flasks, have also been genuine methods for smuggling intelligence.
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