Richard Osman: The Last Devil To Die - list of books in order as Pointless claims he was rejected by MI6

(Photo: Getty Images)(Photo: Getty Images)
(Photo: Getty Images)

Richard Osman has claimed he was rejected by MI6 after participating in a number of what he called "fun" tests to become a spy while attending Cambridge University.

The 52-year-old attended Trinity College in Cambridge around 30 years ago. Osman, who is best known for hosting the BBC programmes Richard Osman's House of Games and Pointless, is also the author of a number of crime novels.

His first, The Thursday Murder Club, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards’ crime and thriller book of the year after its 2020 release.

The author claimed he was considered for MI6 while discussing his latest book - The Last Devil To Die - in an interview for Saturday's Guardian.

Osman said: “They [MI6] just said: ‘No, it’s fine’… I would have been terrible. I’m too tall [Osman is 6ft 7in], not bright enough, and if I have a secret, I tell everybody. You could not find a worse spy. I cannot tell a lie.”

He also remarked, tongue firmly in cheek: “I’m still available, by the way, if MI6 read this. I could be useful, because no-one is going to suspect me now.”

It is a common adage that writers write what they know, and Elizabeth, one of Osman's most well-known fictional characters in his Thursday Murder Club series of books, is a former spy... although she is also a retirement village resident who investigates murders.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: “It is the long-standing position of successive British governments that we don’t comment on the work of the intelligence agencies.”

Osman said he was chosen for an interview using what is arguably the most clichéd method: the infamous "tap on the shoulder" given to a Cambridge undergraduate.

The Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6, recently announced a return to the old-style "tap" method as a way to recruit black and Asian officers and finally dispel the myth that British spies are the domain of the posh, Oxbridge elite.

Alex Younger, a former chief of the agency, told the Guardian in 2017 that MI6 "have to go out and ask these people to join us". He said: "We have to go to people that would not have thought of being recruited to MI6. We have to make a conscious effort. We need to reflect the society we live in.

“Simply, we have to attract the best of modern Britain. Every community from every part of Britain should feel they have what it takes, no matter what their background or status. We have to stop people selecting themselves out.”

Richard Osman's books in order

  • The Thursday Murder Club (2020)
  • The Man Who Died Twice (2021)
  • The Bullet That Missed (2022)
  • The Last Devil To Die (2023)

As well as being a successful television producer and presenter, Osman has seen phenomenal success as an author too. Each of his novels, The Thursday Murder Club, The Man Who Died Twice, and The Bullet That Missed were number one, million-copy international bestsellers as well as New York Times bestsellers.

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