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SPECTRE haunts us: brilliant screen bad guy acronyms

( 12 January 2021 )

As Bond once again battles the global bad guys SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion), here are the other acronymic organisations that will strike terror into us all.

Barbara Windsor, Bernard Cribbins, Charles Hawtrey and Kenneth Williams in Carry on Spying
Barbara Windsor, Bernard Cribbins, Charles Hawtrey and Kenneth Williams in Carry on Spying


Kenneth Williams and his Carry On Spying Brish secret service recruits Bernard Cribbins, Barbara ‘code name Brown Cow’ Windsor and Charles Hawtrey take on the Society for the Total Extermination of Non-Conforming Humans. Not the Carry On canon’s finest moment but daft enough to provoke James Bond producer Albert Broccoli to protest that the characters and poster artwork were too close to his precious original.

Some people have no sense of humour.


Any secret agent worth his or her lapel-worn, fake flower knockout gas gun could tell you that The Man from U.N.C.L.E worked for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. What’s more, that telescopic sight with the bird image on it aimed at you right now! means you were being targeted by T.H.R.U.S.H.

But what does T.H.R.U.S.H. stand for? No-one knows. It’s that secret an organisation. Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity is one interpretation. Terror, Homicide. Revenge. Underworld. Sabotage. Hate. was another. Either way, you wouldn’t want to meet them on a dark night. 


It was every Typhoo Tea chimp’s dream, to enter the glamorous and dangerous world of Lancelot Link, the world's premier simian secret agent. With his female sidekick Mata Hairi (brilliant!) APE’s (Agency to Prevent Evil)  top operative fought Dr Strangemind and The Duchess of the dastardly chimp-run C.H.U.M.P. (Criminal Headquarters for the Underworld's Master Plan),

The early 70s American kids series only ran for 17 episodes. You probably couldn’t make it today for two main reasons: a) animal abuse and b) it was a terrible idea.


Not so much an acronym (it isn’t), but as a mission statement for a global subversion organisation it pretty much Ronseals it.

The world was saved on a weekly basis in the 60s Mel Brooks/Buck Henry created Bond/U.N.C.L.E. parody Get Smart (later 2008 film), no small thanks (if any at all) to inept CONTROL agent 86, Mawell Smart (Don Adams) and his glam sidekick, the nameless agent 99 (Barbara Feldon), who proved every time that she was no flake.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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