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Quest undercover

By Producer Deborah Rivers
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The name's Quest... Richard Quest. International man of mystery.

(CNN) -- "Those who don't take risks, don't drink champagne"

These are the words of the famous spy, Oleg Kalugin, a former KGB colonel who defected to the United States. After a long career as one of Russia's top spooks, he's now at the top of the Kremlin's most wanted list.

Despite this, and the alleged murder of many of his former colleagues including Alexander Litvinenko (Full story), Kalugin refuses to live in fear.

On this month's show, host Richard Quest goes undercover .. to explore the murky and mysterious field of spying and espionage.

The world was riddled with spies during the Cold War -- but do they still exist? Is the life of a secret agent as thrilling or as glamorous as it's portrayed in hit flicks like James Bond and Mission Impossible?

Throughout the show, Quest embarks on own mission -- to find and unveil secrets and catch a few baddies along the way. And if he chooses to accept, will he be any good as a spy?

First stop: Washington DC. There are more spies or former operatives living in this political power-hub than anywhere else in the world.

The U.S. capital is also home to the International Spy Museum. Richard ventures in to discover the deceptions that changed the course of history.

He's given a tour by director Peter Earnest, himself a veteran of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The museum is a gadget-lovers' heaven, paradise to any would-be sleuth.

But, it's Bond's wheels that impressed our Agent Quest.

In disguise, she used her female wiles to lure her suspects. That's how the book would read, but in reality former CIA spy Lindsay Moran's job was not quite so electrifying.

At times though, it was dangerous and certainly secretive -- as she explains: "I did my fair share of jumping out of planes and driving fast cars."

Over a cup of tea in an ordinary suburban home, Moran confesses why she left the intelligence agency after just five years.

To begin with the junior spy might be entrusted with a few snippets of information. Then they move onto stake-outs, dead drops and persuading others to snoop. But what comes next?

As part of his mission, Quest travels to Israel to meet a former spy master -- Efraim Halvey, formerly the top man at Mossad. At home in Tel Aviv, Halvey talks about the politics and diplomacy of spying -- and the sheer responsibility of running a network of agents in the shadows. Quest leaves, convinced Halevy may have been trying to recruit him.

His spying abilities are next questioned by the famous spy writer Frederick Forsyth. The British novelist teams up with Quest in a central London park for a touch of secret agent 'role-playing'.

It doesn't last long. After too many strange looks, the pair retire to the library to debate the intricacies of espionage, world domination, what happens when a spy gets caught -- and what makes the best cover for an agent.

Forsyth denies being a spy himself. Quest is unconvinced. It's clear, though, that he hasn't quite got to grips with what makes a spectacular spy. Apparently the best ones are never outed so how is Quest to find out?

A deadline looms. Double-O-Quest's running out of time to complete his mission. It's off to 'Spy Academy' to learn a few tricks. Can we trust him with a weapon? Is he any good behind the wheel of a speeding car or cracking codes? But he faces his biggest challenge when told he must blend in with the general public.

Quest enlists the help of Harry Ferguson, a former MI6 agent, to see if he can conquer evil and save the day. Find out if he accomplishes his mission ... on this month's Quest. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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