Breaking a century-old tradition, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, the spy agency most famous as the inspiration for secret agent James Bond, began publicly recruiting agents on the Internet on Thursday.

In a remarkable turnaround for an ultra-secretive agency that has never had a Web site, the service, more commonly known as MI6, started its own to increase recruitment and attract people of more diverse backgrounds.

"We need to get away from the idea" that all British spies are "white males educated at Oxford and Cambridge," said agency spokesman Nev Johnson.

MI6 is urging more minorities, more women, mid-career people and those who speak Arabic to consider being a spy.

Even 007, Ian Fleming's swashbuckling creation, is being called in for the recruitment campaign.

"Why look a gift horse in the mouth?" Johnson said.

So the curious can read that "James Bond, as Ian Fleming originally conceived him, was based on reality. But any author needs to inject a level of glamour and excitement beyond reality in order to sell." Nonetheless, the Web site promises, being a British spy is a "stimulating and rewarding career which, like Bond's, will be in the service of their country."