- Always Secret"
— SIS motto.
The Secret Intelligence Service, almost always referred to in media by the term "MI6" (''M
ntelligence, Branch 6
'), is the external intelligence agency for the United Kingdom, roughly equivalent to the United States' CIA
Formed as the Secret Service Bureau in 1909 under the leadership of Captain Sir George Mansfield Smith-Cumming*
, its existence was not officially acknowledged
until 1994, although it now has a website
. It's still considered to be bad form for politicians and other public officials to openly discuss MI6
's activities. Mitt Romney caused a minor scandal when he publicly divulged that he met with representatives of British intelligence while running for president.
Its reputation in media is inextricably linked to the James Bond
mythos, and the agency's appearances in media tend to either play to, or directly contradict such notions.
By the way, the chief is known as "C
" (after Smith-Cumming), not "M", although Ian Fleming
, himself an ex-secret agent, was inspired by Smith-Cumming's use of green ink.
Also note that in British intelligence, operatives directly employed by the various agencies are known as 'Intelligence Officers'. Agents are those who have been turned/bribed/intimidated/etc. into doing the actual dirty work and providing information to officers, who normally have official cover and are protected under diplomatic rules. MI6
won't divulge if it has intelligence officers who get into Bond-style shenanigans.
It has a rather cool base
, namely its headquarters at Vauxhall Cross.
Works Involving The Secret Intelligence Service include:
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Anime and Manga
- Several characters in Darker Than Black work for the SIS. One of the agents, April, gets annoyed when it's called MI6.
- The assassin Golgo 13 is employed by them on occasion.
- Plays a role in Kira Is Justice by sending sixteen agents to Chicago to try to find the new Kira. Unlike most media, who are too lazy to look up the proper name, it is referred to by the SIS instead of the MI6. Take That!
- In the Girl Genius fic On Her Undying Majesty's Secret Service Wooster is explicitly working for the SIS (including a chief known as "Lord M___".)
- James Bond in all his various incarnations, although the movie of Dr. No stated the agency to be MI-7instead.note
- Alex Rider: The title character's uncle was a James Bond expy working for MI-6. He is killed in action and his death covered up by the agency, but Alex penetrates the masquerade and ends up getting recruited.
- The works of John le Carré. As matters were still classified when he wrote, he changed some things, such as using "Control" rather than "C" and having MI6 nicknamed "the Circus" because its headquarters were said to be on Cambridge Circus (in reality it wasn't). le Carré himself was an MI-6 operative in real life until his cover was blown to the KGB by Kim Philby.
- Len Deighton's Bernard Samson series also focus on the work and exploits of the SIS.
- The Laundry Series by Charles Stross, although only in passing. The Laundry itself is the sole surviving section of the WW2 Special Operations Executive. MI6 do not have a very high opinion of them, and the feeling is mutual.
- In a similar vein, the protagonist of Declare by Tim Powers works for an intelligence cell left over from the SOE. Again, the rivalry between SIS and SOE is mentioned, particularly as the leftover SOE cell is so secret that the SIS does not know about it.
- In the novel (but not The Movie) The Hunt for Red October, British and US cooperation in tracking down the titular submarine includes interaction between MI6 and the CIA, as do many other Tom Clancy novels.
- Some works during the 1960s and '70s referred to the name being changed to DI6 (MI5 was also renamed DI5). How accurate this was is uncertain — the SIS website doesn't seem to mention it at all — but more than one author used the new names (examples include Michael Gilbert's "Mr. Calder and Mr. Behrens" stories and Martin Woodhouse's "Giles Yeoman" series).
- Charles Cumming was scouted by them (he never joined up), and now writes SIS spy novels.
- It is not certain, but it is usually assumed that Number 6 from The Prisoner is a former MI6 agent.
- Lie to Me: Cal Lightman is former MI6, as we find out in "Secret Santa", and was in the Yugoslavia Wars.
- Spooks is about MI5 (the domestic intelligence counterpart to MI6), but many episodes also include MI6. The team has something of an Interservice Rivalry with them, but Adam, Fiona, Zaf and Ros all came over from MI6.
- The Piglet Files is a comedy about MI5.
- In one episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Bashir plays James Bond in the holodeck.
- Section 20 in Strike Back is initially portrayed as being run by MI6, though beginning from Project Dawn it was portrayed as being British military intelligence instead. A former MI6 officer is pursued in Shadow Warfare, believed to be responsible for betraying the organisation.
- It's revealed on Elementary that their version of Mycroft Holmes is in fact, an MI6 agent.
- British bombshell Cammy White, of Street Fighter fame, is part of a team operating within the UK's MI6.
- An expository loading screen in Modern Warfare 3 has MI6, MI5, and the SAS working in tandem to stop a suspected terrorist plot in London.
- The Republic's Strategic Information Service in Star Wars: The Old Republic is almost certainly a reference to MI6. Their rival organization, Imperial Intelligence, cover the more intense view of MI6. They are a universal network of invisible, amoral monsters protecting the Sith Empire by any means necessary. And with the very finest of English accents as standard.
- In World of Warcraft, the Stormwind spy network is known as SI:7.
- In Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Majid Sadiq, the main antagonist is a former MI6 agent who went rouge.
- In Saints Row IV one of your homies is an MI6 agent, whom you help as the first mission in the game.
- In Beware the Batman Alfred is a former MI6 agent, and used to work with Katana's parents, with the rank of Major.