Tuesday 20 February 2024
Our Father, the Man Who Never Was
Join brothers Nicholas and Adrian Reed for an evening exploring the story of their father, the legendary MI5 spymaster Ronnie Reed. From handling Britain’s Second World War double agents to his encounters with the Cambridge Five, Nicholas Reed has immortalised his father’s exploits in his book, Spy Runner.
Enjoy this special after-hours event once IWM London has closed its doors to visitors.
About the Event
This is your chance to hear Nicholas and Adrian Reed discuss his new book, Spy Runner, within IWM London’s exclusive Roof Terrace. You will have the chance to join the conversation with Nicholas and his brother, Adrian as they tell the story of their father’s extraordinary life. The evening will conclude with a book signing and after-hours viewing of the Spies, Lies and Deception exhibition.
Our special In Conversation With: events programme supports the new major temporary exhibition Spies, Lies and Deception . As part of the evening, view the must-see exhibition about deception and espionage from the First World War, Second World War and to the present day.
Showcasing over 150 objects, newly digitised film and photography, as well as specially commissioned interviews, explore how audacious plots of deception have changed the course of conflict and the lives of those involved.
Nicholas and Adrian Reed have kindly donated the Iron Cross given to their father by Eddie Chapman, known as Agent Zigzag, to the exhibition. Chapman was awarded the iron cross for his supposed services to the Third Reich while working for Reed as a British double agent.
About the Book
Major Ronnie Reed never spoke about what he did in the Second World War. He was only 23 when it broke out; an amateur radio enthusiast who was working as a maintenance engineer for the BBC. And yet, despite minimal money and qualifications, he became one of the men behind some of the most remarkable spy stories of all time. Recruited in the dead of night from his Anderson shelter, Ronnie became a case officer for double agents, including Eddie Chapman, known then as Agent Zigzag. The passport photo of The Man Who Never Was, was a photo of Ronnie Reed. For ten years after the Second World War, he headed the anti-Russian department of MI5, dealing with notorious spies such as Philby, Burgess and Maclean. In 1994, shortly before Ronnie’s death, he revealed the truth of his remarkable past to his son, Nicholas. In Spy Runner he reveals his father’s fascinating story with a collection of recently released reports and photos from The National Archives, and intimate family snaps.
About the Author
Nicholas Reed trained in classics and archaeology, and has degrees in both subjects, from Oxford, St Andrews and Manchester Universities. He was Founder-Chairman of the Friends of Shakespeare’s Globe in the 1980s, and Founder-Chairman of the Edith Nesbit Society in the 1990s.
He has written six books about the French Impressionists in England and Wales, and one on the Frost Fairs on the Frozen Thames. He has been an accredited Lecturer for the Arts Society since 1992.
He is one of the two sons of Ronnie Reed. Ronnie worked in MI5 from 1942 until 1976. In 1994 Nicholas filmed a unique 45-minute interview with his father: the only time he discussed his work for MI5. During the War, Ronnie “ran” Agent Zigzag for over a year and investigated Russian agents during the Cold War.
This interview has formed the basis of Nicholas’s book Spy Runner, published by The History Press in 2020.
About Your Ticket
As a charity, your IWM In Conversation ticket purchase helps IWM continue to tell stories for future generations.
Tickets cost just £15 per person (including IWM members) and include:
- Nicholas’s talk within the impressive surroundings of IWM London’s exclusive Roof Terrace
- A special Q&A with Nicholas and special guest Adrian Reed
- Ask your own questions and join the conversation
- The talk culminates in a book signing for a personal meet and greet with Nicholas
- Then enjoy exclusive after-hours entry to the special new major exhibition Spies, Lies and Deception
- Plus, discover the historical context of Spies, Lies and Deception in a special introductory talk on arrival at the exhibition entrance
In addition to your ticket booking, if you can, please purchase your copy of the book from our IWM pop up shop on the evening. Every purchase you make supports the work we do.
What to Expect
© Adrian Reed
About Nicholas's special guest
Nicholas will be joined on stage by his younger brother, Adrian Reed. Adrian grew up unaware of his father’s profession, except for knowing that he worked at the War Office, later becoming the Ministry of Defence.
An accomplished violinist, Adrian performed in the Royal Opera House Orchestra for 44 years. Now retired, he hopes to shed light on his father’s life outside of the Intelligence Corps and MI5.
About your venue
Join Nicholas and Adrian Reed for an evening in unique surroundings.
The Roof Terrace is a spectacular event space, dramatically suspended from the barrel-vaulted glass roof of IWM London and as if hanging in mid-air. Designed by Foster + Partners, the Roof Terrace with its dramatic bridge and views of the galleries below also provides a spectacular view of the Dome, once the chapel belonging to Bedlam, designed by Sidney Smirke.
About IWM London
Imperial War Museums is the world’s leading museum of war and conflict. Founded while the First World War was still raging, it gives voice to the extraordinary experiences of ordinary people forced to live their lives in a world torn apart by conflict.
The Grade II listed building that houses the museum is easy to get to.
Plan your journey: Lambeth Road, London, SE1 6HZ (view map)