Admit it, you’ve asked yourself this while watching James Bond: would you have what it takes to be a spy?
Unfortunately, to properly answer that you need to actually ask someone who knows the game, and spies can be secretive devils. Thankfully, Channel 4 has found three intelligence officers willing to put the public through their paces for new reality series Spies.
These former secret agents – known only in the series as Cameron, Julian and Deborah (below) – together test 15 wannabe spooks on the art of espionage.
— Minnow Films (@Minnow_Films) January 5, 2017
But who are these professional secret keepers? We’ve been doing a little snooping of our own this morning ahead of the new series. Have we blown their cover? Read on to find out more…
— Cameron Colquhoun (@cam3r0n9) January 2, 2017
Spies’ lead instructor Cameron hasn’t gone out of his way to keep his identity secret. The ‘former senior analyst at GCHQ’ is surprisingly open online about his past history, claiming in his bio that he spent “almost a decade running cyber and counter-terrorism operations in British Intelligence agencies, working closely with Whitehall and was deployed with UK special forces in the Middle East”.
He now runs his own cyber intelligence company, Neon Century, delivering “ethically-gathered intelligence” to corporate clients. He also likes tweeting handy motivational spy messages. The ideal sleuthsayer.
— Cameron Colquhoun (@cam3r0n9) January 3, 2017
Harder to pin down, but we believe we have flushed out former MI6 intelligence officer Julian as intelligence specialist Julian Fisher.
Julian worked “in a specialised branch of the British Diplomatic Service” in Africa, before becoming an intelligence consultant and setting up his own “immersive role-play espionage experience” business Your Mission in 2015.
An article in the Wall Street Journal explained that Your Mission “stages fictional espionage adventures on the streets of London.” Perfect for an immersive Channel 4 reality series.
“If you were a Russian intelligence officer thinking of offering your services to Her Majesty’s government, Julian would fulfil every expectation,” a colleague of Julian says. “People trusted Julian with their lives. You don’t get much more qualified.”
The former MI5 officer and surveillance specialist has proved hardest of all to track down – a true intelligence expert, and absolutely nothing to do with the fact that we can’t work out whether to start with ‘Debbie’ or ‘Deborah’.
She says in the programme that she “ran surveillance ops against terrorists and hostile agencies” during her career in the Security Service, but so far that’s all we have to go on.
Consider this a test of your own espionage skills: can you help us unearth her true identity? Answers in the usual dead letter drop (ie our comments box).
What does this all prove? That if you really want to be a spy, it’s best not to tell everyone about it on national television.