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UK's top secret defence research agency searching for James Bond-style Q geeks


Gadget geeks hoping to become the next Q are being recruited by military chiefs.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory is advertising for apprentice roles “across cyber security, software engineering, explosives and more”.

Successful applicants could end up developing secret kit to help British soldiers and spies, in a position similar to that of Q in the James Bond 007 films – a role immortalised by stars including Desmond Llewellyn, John Cleese and Ben Whishaw.

The character of Q was head of Q Branch – later Q Division – the fictional research and development wing o MI6, known formally as the Secret Intelligence Service.



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John Cleese
John Cleese as Q in Die Another Day with Pierce Brosnan

The real-life Q Branch is the DSTL, based at the top secret Porton Down base in Wiltshire.

The facility played a key role in identifying the deadly Novichok nerve agent used to poison former KGB double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in nearby Salisbury in March 2018.

An online advert posted this week invites candidates to join “our world-class experts in delivering cutting edge science and technology”.



Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal
Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal survived the poisoning in Salisbury

It trumpets “vacancies in a range of operational, scientific and technical roles”.

One DSTL staffer called Julie, who started as an apprentice, praised the route into the agency.

She said: “I’m dyslexic which basically means that I wasn’t very good at exams, I sometimes didn’t understand the question that was being asked and therefore wouldn’t answer it correctly.

“An apprenticeship enables you to demonstrate your strengths within the workplace rather than an exam paper.



Porton Down is home to DSTL

“The positive things about this is that you might attract people that wouldn’t have otherwise gone to university but have many different strengths, meaning you have a diverse pool of people to pull into the apprenticeship programme – people that wouldn’t otherwise (have) thought they could do it – and you could help them along the path.”

First-year apprentice Anna, who has a law degree, said: “They tailor your placements to your natural skills, so being someone who’s not from a very scientific background I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t have a lot to bring to the table.

“But my placement has been tailored to my legal skills so it makes me feel really comfortable, it makes me feel like I can play apart in DSTL and I’m really enjoying it so far.”

A DSTL spokeswoman told the Mirror: “DSTL is proud of its renowned apprenticeship programme which plays a vital role in developing and upskilling the next generation of British scientists within defence and security.”





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