Michael Wyman is an agent for MI-6.
He is also a Honorary Fellow at the university from which he was seconded many years before by the Firm when they were in need of someone with East German experience. Speaking fluent German and knowing the region quite well, he was the perfect candidate, was asked, and accepted. He had been with them for thirty years and was content, considering himself to be a half-caste, a college don with a PhD in Philosophy who was also in British Intelligence.
Though he worked for MI-6, he was attached to a section relegated to the "back-water" regions of government, literally as well as figuratively, known as the Department, a section which was once considered vibrant and vital but is now was "as dry and dusty as those who ran it."
But as the series opens, his life is undergoing some drastic change. This fifty-six year old man, contemplating retirement soon, is shocked to hear that with cutbacks needed, his position with MI-6 is being made redundant. And similar money squeezes at the University makes them have to remove all current Honorary positions. His alimony checks are a bit in arrears. And his thirty-nine year old girl friend has just learned she is pregnant. A stressful week for Wyman.
Life changes quickly for Wyman but his involvement with the Firm and the Intelligence community is never lost and he continues to find ways to show that a middle-aged man with graying thin hair, a pink and flabby face, and a growing paunch can still be an agent to be reckoned with.