Some of Killing Eve reflects my time in MI5 – the rest made me laughApril 15, 2019
Strong friendships and romantic relationships are quite common within the service – indeed, provided there is nothing covert, they are tacitly approved of.
You work very intensively with each other and at least if you are dating a fellow officer it makes the pillow talk easier. You don’t have to worry about the Official Secrets Act!
I’ve certainly heard of Special Branch police officer fraternising with targets, too. As we have seen over the last nine years with the evolving undercover cop scandal, some police officers certainly slept with their targets.
No doubt they justified this as building their cover story.
So I would say that some of the themes in Killing Eve refract a certain version of the reality of intelligence work – although vastly amplified.
I think it was interesting that Eve had the get up and go to move from a back room role into an intelligence officer role.
Many have joked over the years that intelligence work is like piecing together a jigsaw, but without the picture on the box – this is precisely the process Eve goes through as she develops into her role.
And, of course, once an operation goes live you really do have to hit the ground running.
Similarly just as with James Bond’s fabled licence to kill – which does actually exist in diluted form under the 1994 Intelligence Services Act (Section 7, if you are interested) – the concept of intelligence agencies of any country using assassins is not utterly unknown.
There is a dishonourable roll call of such activities over the decades: dirty tricks in Northern Ireland; Israel’s Mossad eliminating scientists in Iran over the last decade; the Skripal case last year; the CIA in pretty much most of Latin America and the Middle East.
That is, frankly, just realpolitik and despite the efforts of many whistleblowers and various political scandals over the years, the spooks will continue to operate in the shadows.
Most democracies have oversight and accountability measures to try and maintain a semblance of order, but these are notoriously difficult to apply to secret organisations.
Of course Villanelle is a caricature psychopath, but no more than any other fictionalised spies or villains you see on TV.
And who is complaining? By the end of episode one of the first series I was hooked because, whatever flights of fancy it indulges in, Killing Eve is a cracking good drama with lashings of glamour and mordant humour.
It might not be the MI5 I recognise but I for one am looking forward to the second series.
The UK air date of Killing Eve is still unknown but here’s everything you need to know
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