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Introduction

This book is not so much a biography as an operational history. Its subject, Owen Reed, was a successful BBC broadcaster, who eventually rose to become head of Children’s Television and later of Staff Training. His legacy to the world of broadcasting included such enormously popular British children’s programmes as Play School and Blue Peter – still running after more than 40 years. However, Reed was never prominent in public or business life, and his full life story would make interesting but not especially remarkable reading. Yet his record during the Second World War is a very different matter, for it was during the War that he found his way through convoluted channels into the employment of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS – also known as MI6), who parachuted him into German-occupied Yugoslavia. There he worked as an intelligence officer with the communist resistance forces, or Partisans, supplying information to SIS on enemy activities and on the Partisan movement itself. The story of his time with SIS is the central focus of the following narrative: it is, to the author’s knowledge, the first documented history of a British Secret Service field operative.