The head of MI6 said he has no James Bond-style Aston Martin and his pen emits nothing more exotic than green ink.
Richard Moore, who goes by the traditional codename C, said the Bond films were “wonderful” but stressed “it is not reality”.
In a rare interview, Mr Moore admitted he “did some skulking” in his career but insisted it was a long way from the “colourful” popular image of spy tradecraft.
While 007’s boss goes by the name M, Mr Moore follows in the Secret Intelligence Service tradition of being known as C.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that many mistakenly think C stands for chief, but “it stands for Cumming, as in Mansfield Cumming (the first head of MI6); he was a naval man and he wrote in green ink”.
Presenter Nick Robinson said: “And at the moment anybody who gets a document with green ink in that building knows it comes from…”
Mr Moore replied: “From me, and the same is true of my typescript on my computer.”
He said there are no gadgets on his car, adding: “And I can assure you it is not, sadly, an Aston Martin.”
Mr Moore said the service’s fictional link to Ian Fleming’s Bond had to be celebrated rather than viewed as a burden.
“It is fiction, it is not reality but the Bond franchise is a wonderful one. I had such fun watching the most recent film – no spoilers here but it is brilliant, it doffs a cap to all the great James Bond traditions.”
He added that “we embrace James Bond even though we know it is not true life”.
Robinson asked whether Mr Moore had ever donned a beard or moustache while “skulking on the streets as a young agent”, or if that is no longer the world that MI6 inhabits.
Mr Moore said: “If that was ever the world we lived in, that’s certainly not the world we live in now.”
He told Robinson: “I’m sure I did some skulking, perhaps not quite in the colourful image that you presented.
“The serious point here is right: if we are faced with those technological threats to our business model, our way of going about doing our job, then we have to stay ahead of that curve.”
That meant the gadgets and cutting-edge equipment used by MI6 could no longer be produced solely by the “boffins” in the “Q labs” – so the Bond character played by Ben Whishaw may soon be calling on tech support from outside contractors.