David Jason’s Secret Service and The M Room

A new spy documentary – David Jason’s Secret Service airs next Tuesday 5th December at 9 pm on More 4 (Freeview 14).  This series links with our resources to support both the KS2 and KS3 History curriculum – The M Room, History of Computing and Women in computing.

Passionate espionage enthusiast Sir David Jason reveals the secret places, the people and the compelling stories behind Britain’s incredible spy history from the 20th century to the modern day. Episode one begins with the formation of the British Secret Service in 1909 by maverick spy master Sir Mansfield Cumming – code name C – who turned a group of amateurs into the country’s first secret agents. Five years later when World War One broke out, their spying was pivotal to the Allied victory. Belgian refugees were recruited as they arrived in Britain and Folkestone became a key battleground for British spy organisations.

The historical consultant for the series is the eminent historian Dr Helen Fry, who was our consultant and lead presenter for The M Room, this resource gives LGfL and Trustnet schools exclusive access to World War II listening sites, as well as featuring an interview with one of the original secret listeners and extensive primary-source material from the Ministry of Defence and the National Archives.

The M Room was so secret that only the secret listeners who operated it and some intelligence officers knew of its existence. The letter M stood for ‘miked’ and reflected the fact that the room was set up with the latest listening technology. Access was gained through two locked doors and the keys given only to designated staff. From here the operators could listen into the conversations of the prisoners in their cells or in one of the interrogation rooms. Sometimes the interrogations were recorded if prisoners started to give away important military information.The monitoring of prisoners’ conversations continued every day of the year, including Christmas Day, so that nothing was missed.

The resource targeted at the KS3 History curriculum features 50 high quality video clips filmed on a range of locations including declassified military sites as well as images of personnel, maps, locations and previously classified documents.  The resource also includes a curriculum mapping section including lesson plans for Key Stage 3 and 4.  A trailer of the resource can be viewed here:

The history of computing also includes a section focussing on code breaking during WW2, looking at the impact of Alan Turing and his work at Bletchley Park, a place of exceptional historical importance as it is the home of British code breaking and the birthplace of modern information technology.  It played a major, yet highly secret role in World War II, producing intelligence which had a direct and fundamental influence on the outcome of the conflict. The role of women during this time can also be looked at in our Women in computing resource.

Leave a Reply