Meet the 'all new' blue-eyed Bond who signs his coded name using green ink, and will visit Pakistan soon to take care of more unfinished business.
All ambassadors are actually spies. Notice how many meet with our polticians and security forces' personnel.
Tuesday 16 June 2009 12.26 BST
Sir John Sawers named as new chief of MI6
Sir John Sawers, currently the UK ambassador to the UN in New York, is to be the new chief of MI6, Downing Street announced today.
Sawers is a diplomat who has been close to Downing Street and the foreign policy establishment for many years.
It is highly unusual for a diplomat, or any outsider, to be appointed as the head – or C for chief, as he is still officially called – of MI6, Britain's secret intelligence service.
Sawers will replace Sir John Scarlett in November, soon after MI6 celebrates its 100th anniversary. It is marking the occasion with a ball, but former and current MI6 employees will have to pay for their tickets, Whitehall officials have said.
As the chairman of the joint intelligence committee, Scarlett was at the centre of the controversy over the Blair government's Iraq weapons dossier. This, however, did not prevent him from returning to his former service as its chief.
Sawers, 53, has been the political director at the Foreign Office, the ambassador to Cairo and Britain's special representative in Baghdad.
Between 1999 and 2001, he was the foreign affairs adviser to Tony Blair, covering a period that included the Kosovo war.
He also contributed to negotiations on Northern Ireland and the implementation of the Good Friday agreement.
Sawers is known to adopt a hard line on Iran and be sceptical about any suggestions that it does not want to build nuclear weapons.
Born in Warwick, he was educated at the City of Bath boys' school, where he still holds the 400m hurdles record.
He studied physics and philosophy at the University of Nottingham and continued his studies at the universities of St Andrews, Witwatersrand and Harvard.
His interests include theatre, hiking and sport, especially tennis and cycling. He and his wife have three children.
Traditionally, the head of MI6 signs letters and memos "C", written in green ink. His signed documents are sent to the Queen as well as to government departments.
Sawers will be taking on the post at a time when, after being severely cut at the end of the cold war, the agency is expanding fast and attempting to attract people from a wider variety of backgrounds.
Last year, it launched a campaign to recruit more officers from ethnic minorities and shed its image as an overwhelmingly white male agency of wannabe James Bonds.
MI6 officers are particularly active in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Charles Farr, the head of the Office of Security and Counterterrorism at the Home Office, had been among those tipped to take over from Scarlett.