Sunday, March 07, 2004

Too Tall to Spy

It seems like MI5 is climbing on the heightist bandwagon, if this article is to be believed.

When it comes to spying for Britain, small is beautiful. New guidelines by MI5, the security service, state that men seeking work as field agents should not be taller than 5ft 11in so that they can "blend in to the background" more easily.

The rules, set out in a new application form sent to would-be officers, mean that all five actors who played James Bond, including Pierce Brosnan, the film's present star, would be rejected. A similar height limit will apply to women, who must be 5ft 8in or less. MI5's chief, Eliza Manningham-Buller, is 5ft 8in.

The new application form says: "You should be able to blend into the background. We are looking for average height, build, appearance. Applicants would ideally be no taller than 5ft 11in for men and 5ft 8in for women."

This would rule out even James Bond - the prize asset of MI6, the intelligence service. Although 007's height is not specified, all the actors who have played him tower above 5ft 11in. Sean Connery is 6ft 1in, George Lazenby is 6ft 2in and Roger Moore is 6ft. Timothy Dalton is 6ft 2in, while Pierce Brosnan is 6ft.

A Whitehall official defended the policy. "They do have tall people in the building, but it would be ridiculous to send a surveillance officer into a dangerous situation who stood out like a sore thumb."

The official added that tall, or short, people would not be banned from joining the service, but would not be able to become field agents.

By God, sir! All my James Bond fantasies gone down the drain.