First transmitted in 1966, Malcolm Muggeridge talks to the novelist John le Carre, who at the age of 34 had written the best-seller The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. Although their conversation covers much about the author's influences and ambitions - with the notable exception of any mention of his time as a spy - much of the interview looks at the modern phenomenon of the secret service agent as a hero.
In a revealing insight, le Carre explains that his dislike of James Bond stems from the fact that Bond doesn't exist in a political context, making him more of an "international gangster" than a spy. Although Malcolm Muggeridge talks about his own, very brief, period of spying, John le Carre remains close-lipped about his (much more extensive) career in espionage. Le Carre (real name David Cornwell) began working for MI5 in 1952 and transferred to MI6 in 1960. There he remained until 1964, when a combination of Kim Philby's defection, which exposed many British agents, and his own growing success as a novelist caused him to leave the secret service. Le Carre remained secretive about his former career for many decades.