Erskine childers

All successful spies need to be good actors

On 2 October last year, when he became chief of the UK Secret Intelligence Service (MI6, if you prefer), Richard Moore tweeted (tweeted!): ‘#Bond or #Smiley need not apply. They’re (splendid) fiction but actually we’re #secretlyjustlikeyou.’ The gesture’s novelty disguised, at the time, its appalling real-world implications. Bond was, after all, competent and Smiley had integrity. Stars and Spies, by the veteran intelligence historian Christopher Andrew and the theatre director and circus producer Julius Green, is a thoroughly entertaining read, but not at all a reassuring one. ‘The adoption of a fictional persona, the learning of scripts and the ability to improvise’ are central to career progression in both theatre