Rough Cuts: Before Spooks, there was Cinderella…

We delve into Top Secret(ish) files to reveal a former head of MI5 honing her acting skills


Who spies on the spies? Rough Cuts, of course! 


The covert piece of microfilm above captures MI5 head-to-be Eliza Manningham-Buller during an unguarded moment at Oxford University back in 1968.

If Spooks has taught us anything it’s that spies need to be accomplished actors, so it’s no surprise to discover that Manningham-Buller was keen on amateur dramatics.

Our surveillance footage shows her being directed by a young Gyles Brandreth in a production of Cinderella.

“When she came in for the audition, I
recognised immediately this was my ideal fairy queen,” says Brandreth. 

“She was delightful and already showing her leadership
qualities — she also handled a wand to the manner born.”

The former
head of MI5 discusses Spooks, the threat to Britain and Amy Winehouse in the
new issue of Radio Times, on sale now