Britain's MI5 chief Andrew Parker
Britain's MI5 chief Andrew Parker

British security service MI5 has launched Operation Petra to inspire schoolchildren to become spies, local media reported on Thursday.

It has teamed up with national children’s television broadcaster CBBC to show how intelligence officers are recruited.

Britain's MI5 chief Andrew Parker
Britain’s MI5 chief Andrew Parker

For the first time in its 105-year history, the domestic spy agency will allow filming inside its London headquarters.

Children aged 8-14 will apply through the popular Blue Peter programme to be candidates put through mental and physical challenges to see if they have the right stuff to be secret agents.

Foyle’s War creator Anthony Horowitz, author of the Alex Rider teenage spy novels and the latest picked to write a new James Bond adventure by the Ian Fleming estate, is on the selection panel.

“I’m really thrilled to have been invited to join this top secret panel,” he told the Blue Peter programme.

The MI5 has been transformed into a transparent organization in recent years – even making it into bisexual charity Stonewall’s list of Britain’s most gay-friendly employers.

It was only in 1992 that the identity of the MI5 head became publicly known. The following year, Stella Rimington, who was also its first female boss, became the first spymaster to pose openly for cameras.


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