MI6 boss Sir Alex Younger once declared that James Bond was both a blessing and a curse for the British secret services.
But this summer the spy chief seems very keen to count his blessings.
For I can reveal that Sir Alex made a secret visit last week to the set of the as-yet-untitled 25th Bond film at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, where he shook hands with Ralph Fiennes who plays his fictional counterpart ‘M’.
‘Sir Alex and other senior MI6 figures came down and met Fiennes as well as other stars of the film, including 007 Daniel Craig, Moneypenny Naomie Harris and Bond baddie Rami Malek,’ says my double agent.
‘It was an absolutely fascinating meeting of real-life spies and their on-screen equivalents.’
MI6 boss Sir Alex Younger (right, delivering a speech at the University of St Andrews, Scotland last year) made a secret visit last week to the set of the as-yet-untitled 25th Bond film at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, where he shook hands with Ralph Fiennes (left, in Spectre) who plays his fictional counterpart ‘M’
Ralph Fiennes (second-from-left) with James Bond actor Daniel Craig (left) meeting Prince Charles (right) alongside director Cary Joji Fukunaga (second-from-right)
Apparently sworn to secrecy about the get-together, a spokesman for the film-maker Eon Productions declines to comment. But Sir Alex has spoken publicly about 007 in the past.
In a speech in 2016, he said the action film franchise offered priceless free publicity, but gave a rather misleading picture of the more prosaic life of an intelligence officer.
And last year MI6 made a TV advertisement which aimed to turn the Bond image on its head.
It featured a scene that could have been straight from a Bond film, with sinister music playing as a shark circled. Seconds later, the scene widened to show a startled child being comforted by his mother in an aquarium.
MI6 wanted to convey the message that the spy agency was less interested in recruiting would-be 007s than people who reflect Britain’s diversity — mothers, for example.
‘We are intelligence officers, but we don’t do what you think,’ said the ad’s voiceover. Then came the payoff: ‘MI6 — secretly, we are just like you.’
MI6’s head of recruitment explained: ‘The concept was to play on the image but to explain very clearly that this was not James Bond.’
Try telling that to Sir Alex.
Sir Alex visited Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire (pictured) where the as-yet-untitled 25th Bond film is being filmed
Inking of you, says Cara with ‘A’ tattoo for lover
It must be love. Cara Delevingne bares all for her latest magazine shoot — and shows off her new ‘A’ inking on her rib cage in tribute to U.S. actress girlfriend Ashley Benson, whom she reportedly married this month in Las Vegas.
Talking to Marie Claire, Cara says she denied her attraction to women for years and felt like an outsider: ‘I didn’t want to feel different, even though from an early age I always felt I didn’t belong.’
And she says of her current relationship: ‘We weren’t looking for it. It was really just very authentic and natural.’
The magazine cover is a homage to Calvin Klein’s iconic 1994 Obsession campaign.
Cara Delevingne bares all for her latest magazine shoot — and shows off her new ‘A’ inking on her rib cage (pictured) in tribute to U.S. actress girlfriend Ashley Benson
The magazine cover (pictured, with Cara Delevingne on the front) is a homage to Calvin Klein’s iconic 1994 Obsession campaign
It must be daunting going on hols with a supermodel.
Sadie Frost, who is on a break with Kate Moss, has opened up about her insecurities as she shares a picture of herself online in a long-sleeved bathing costume.
‘I have never felt great in a swimsuit and never enjoyed sunbathing so I have always worn an alternative swimsuit,’ explains Jude Law’s ex-wife and mother of four.
‘Even though I have exercised loads and eaten well, I have never been that trim.
‘I have had to work at it plus work at being comfortable in my own skin, which I think I am. I want to enjoy a good meal, exercise realistically, accept who I am and enjoy my life.’
Sadie Frost, who is on a break with Kate Moss, has opened up about her insecurities as she shares a picture of herself online (above) in a long-sleeved bathing costume
Hollywood star Kevin Costner says he follows the life of Meghan Markle with bemusement now she’s married into the Royal Family.
‘We watch it from across an ocean and sometimes we don’t understand exactly what’s going on,’ he says.
The Dances With Wolves star says he could never imagine Prince Harry watching the Duchess of Sussex on screen again.
‘That’s why I’m not married to an actor. I don’t want to see my wife kissing somebody.’
Comedian Miranda Hart seems pleased that she has a house in London as well as one in Sussex.
‘I was carrying two heavy smelly bin bags down the lane to the nearest farm because it was too muddy to take my car down — it did not feel even remotely idyllic,’ Royal Navy captain’s daughter Miranda, who grew up on Dartmoor, says in a foreword to The Village Survival Guide. ‘And when I inevitably slipped and found myself face to face with a cowpat, far from blissful.’
Is this what Prince Charles had in mind when he invited her to become the new ambassador for the Prince’s Countryside Fund?
Potter spell wears off for Maggie
Dame Maggie Smith has mixed feelings about the global recognition the Harry Potter films have brought her.
‘These films made me very famous, which I’m not so happy about,’ she says of her role as headmistress Professor McGonagall.
‘I constantly have kids asking me to turn them into cats.’ At least she can take some personal credit for the casting of the young lead actor.
‘I adore Daniel Radcliffe, who I had worked with before, and spent a long time telling all the producers they had to see him because I thought he was so terrific.’
You’ve only got yourself to blame, Dame Maggie.
Dame Maggie Smith (pictured at a Downton Abbey photocall in 2015) has mixed feelings about the global recognition the Harry Potter films have brought her
Despite growing up on her parents’ cider farm in Somerset, the Duchess of Cambridge’s favourite boho designer, Alice Temperley, has surprised friends by announcing she’s quit booze.
‘I have given up alcohol for a bit and I feel like a completely different human being,’ she says.
The family’s 180 acres of apple orchards will not go to waste during Alice’s period of temperance. She reveals her ‘clear thinking five-month challenge’ will be aided by her sister, Mary, who will supply her with a ‘healthy’ alcohol-free drink made from the very same apple trees.
Looks like Lily had a hot date…
Mamma Mia 2 star Lily James found herself getting a bit heated on a night out with The Crown’s Matt Smith
Lily, who has been dating the actor for five years, started the evening looking poised in a £300 Ganni maxi dress as they headed out to a Greek restaurant near their Primrose Hill home.
However, upon leaving, the smiling actress pushed down the sleeves of her frock to expose her shoulders in an apparent bid to cool off.
Lily, who has been dating actor Matt Smith for five years, started the evening looking poised in a £300 Ganni maxi dress (left) as they headed out to a Greek restaurant near their Primrose Hill home. However, upon leaving, the smiling actress pushed down the sleeves of her frock to expose her shoulders in an apparent bid to cool off (right)