Q (Desmond Llewelyn)

Desmond Llewelyn


Character: Q
Actor: Desmond Llewelyn
Movies: From Russia With Love - Diamonds Are Forever; The Man With The Golden Gun - The World Is Not Enough
Status: Retired
Appearance: Tall and slim with receding grey hair, high cheekbones, a welcoming smile and dark brown eyes.
Date of Birth: 12th September 1914
Height: 6' 2" (1.88m)
Place of Birth: Newport, South Wales, UK

"Remember, if it hadn't been for Q Branch, you'd have been dead long ago."

Pleased To Meet You
James Bond first meets with Major Boothroyd, head of Q-Branch, at MI6 before being dispatched to Istanbul. The soon-to-be familiar gadget-master gives an impatient 007 a detailed rundown on his latest creation: a nasty bag of tricks in the form of a sleek brown attaché case.

Boothroyd is a genuinely kind and resourceful man who has spent over 35 years of his life in public service. Having replaced his superior as the head of his department shortly before the "From Russia With Love" mission, the Major quickly earned his nickname 'Q', after his department. The name stuck and the man became a frequent asset to the secret service inner circle. In demeanour Q is the stereotypical boffin with an answer to everything.

Sean Connery, Bernard Lee and Desmond Llewelyn
"Inside the case you'll find an AR7 folding sniper's rifle, .25 caliber, with an infrared telescopic sight."

He clashes wits with 007 regularly, and finds the agent's reckless regard for government property - and his painstaking work in particular - completely exasperating. Nonetheless, Bond almost always gets his way, with Q allowing Bond to field-test some of his most precious gizmos. It may first appear that Q has no time for practical jokes or humour, but this is not the case. He is, however, serious about his work and expects others to treat his creations with due respect.

Q's work is simply too varied and his department's achievements too numerous to list in any detail. However, this dossier will give a broad overview of Q-Branch inventions utilised by 007 as well as the Major's involvement in James Bond's missions.

The gadget-man would quickly become accustomed to working in the field - first assembling a makeshift laboratory in the Bahamas at 007's request, when the spy was tailing Largo on the "Thunderball" mission. Q has supplied equipment to Bond in the field numerous times since, including work on location in: Japan, Hong Kong, Sardinia, Rio de Janeiro, India, Isthmus and Germany.

Notably, Q went behind the back of his superiors on the "Licence To Kill" mission in order to provide 007 with anther infamous Q-Branch bag of tricks; this time including Dentonite Toothpaste, X-Ray Polaroid camera and a portable Fingerprint Signature Gun. The Major also gets involved in 'field work' - not for the first time - driving the Tug for 007 as he stows away onboard the Wavekrest and together with CIA pilot, Pam Bouvier, Q traces Bond's movements as he infiltrates Sanchez's drug smuggling racket.


Roger Moore and Desmond Llewelyn

Pierce Brosnan and Desmond Llewelyn

Although he is unable to brief 007 in person on the "Live And Let Die" mission, the only documented case of this occurrence, Q-Branch issues Bond (via M) with an updated Rolex watch complete with magnet and buzz saw.

Q is clearly shaken by the death of his Indian colleague, Vijay, whilst on watch duty for the "Octopussy" affair. The gadget-master is unaccustomed to the stark realities of the field and it is finding his partner's masticated body that deters Q from frequent fieldwork.

Q on Locaiton in Japan
"Look, 007, I've had a long and tiring journey, probably to no purpose, so I'm in no mood for juvenile quips."

The department is particularly able at turning out 'fully loaded' customised sports cars - namely Aston Martin and BMW marques - that serve as company cars for MI6's highest profile agents.

Q is often called into briefings in order to explain the technical elements of a mission to 007 or another of his colleagues. He describes the revolutionary submarine tracking system as 'quite simple' in "The Spy Who Loved Me", and is frequently able to rattle off an explanation for the latest technology, much to the bemusement of M and others.

Pierce Brosnan and Desmond Llewelyn Shoot At Pinewood
"Don't touch that! That's my lunch."

The work of Boothroyd and his department is widely known and respected - often too widely - by the intelligence community. This is demonstrated by Russian Agent Anya Amasova's working knowledge of Q's pride and joy, a Lotus Esprit submarine, dubbed 'Wet-Nellie'. Incidentally, the codename (Little) 'Nellie', was first used years earlier by Q-Branch for a light-weight flying craft, technically known as an auto-gyro, that served 007 on the "You Only Live Twice" mission.

In his senior years, Q began to train an apprentice - although reports seem to suggest that the gadget-master found his assistant less than adequate. Dubbed 'R' by James Bond, prior to departing on the "World Is Not Enough" mission, the apprentice would take over the management of Q-Branch after Boothroyd's retirement.

Bond: Ejector seat? You're joking!
Q: I never joke about my work, 007.

Q: Right. Now pay attention, 007. I want you to take great care of this equipment. There are one or two rather special accessories...
Bond: Q, have I ever let you down?
Q: Frequently.

Q: I've been saying for years, sir, that our special equipment is obsolete. And now, computer analysis reveals an entirely new approach: miniaturization. For instance, radioactive lint. When placed in an opponent's pockets, the anti-personnel and location fix seems fairly obvious.

Pierce Brosnan and Desmond Llewelyn Shoot At Pinewood
"Oh and they missed you, what a pity!"

Q: Now, this I'm particularly proud of - behind the headlights, stinger missiles!
Bond: Excellent, just the thing for unwinding after a rough day at the office.
Q: Need I remind you, 007, that you have a license to kill, not to break the traffic laws.

Vijay: Is he still there?
Q: You must be joking! Double-0 seven on an island populated exclusively by women? We won't see him till dawn!

Q: Something we're making for the Americans. It's called a "Ghetto Blaster".

Q: I've always tried to teach you two things. First, never let them see you bleed.
Bond: And the second?
Q: Always have an escape plan.

Q: It has not been perfected, out of years of patient research, ENTIRELY for that purpose, 007. And incidentally, we'd appreciate its return, along with all your other equipment, INTACT for once, when you return from the field.
Bond: Well, you'd be surprised the amount of wear and tear that goes on out there in the field.

Bond: [handing Q his coat] Do you think you can help me? Someone seems to have stuck a knife in my wallet.
Q: Oh, and missed you, did they? What a pity!

Bond: Well, that takes care of the normal wear-and-tear. Is there any other protection I need?
Q: Only from me 007, unless you bring that car back in pristine order.

Minister of Defence: My God, what's Bond doing?
Q: I think he's attempting re-entry, sir.

Q in Licence To Kill
Desmond Llewelyn In-Depth Biography


Desmond Wilkinson Llewelyn was born on September 12th, 1914. At age 9, Desmond attended the Priory preparatory boarding school before enrolling at Radley College, a Church of England boy's school in Oxfordshire. Llewelyn earned a small-time job at the local theatre as a stage hand before a friend convinced him to try out for a new production at the theatre - this time for an on-stage role. After his debut he worked on and off with the Forsyth Players before joining the priesthood. He quickly discovered that lifestyle was not for him and his gregarious personality enamoured Desmond with the ladies he met.

On 16th May 1938, Desmond married his high school girlfriend Pamela Pantlin and the pair would remain together until Desmond's passing. Llewelyn was accepted into RADA but not before he would have to serve a stint in the army, as the Second World War saw a halt in his acting career.

In 1946 Desmond was cast in a screen adaptation of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and followed this up with a role in the mini-series "My Wife Jaqueline".

Llewelyn's big-screen debut would not come until the '50s. The film was a war-drama, "They Were Not Divided", directed by Terence Young.

He was quickly cast in the second of many James Bond films to come, by its director (Young) but it was not until "Thunderball" that his character, Q, would earn the famous nickname.

The role of Q was one that required hours of preparation for Desmond. Throughout his career on the Bond pictures - appearing in 18 out of 19 consecutive adventures - Llewelyn would battle with the outrageously complicated dialogue he was required to deliver.

With the commercial success of "Goldfinger", Llewelyn and his fellow Bond filmmakers were flung into stardom. His scenes quickly became something of a feature of each film and Q became a favourite of Bond fan's. His scenes were always eagerly awaited by cinemagoers.

Q and Bond in The World Is Not Enough
"Fully loaded I think is the term."

Between 1971 and 1974 Desmond was performing as one of the regulars in English drama "Follyfoot". The show ran for three seasons and Llewelyn's character of Geoffrey Maddocks appeared in all but two. With Llewelyn busy with his regular "Follyfoot" commitments, the Bond producers took the opportunity to experiment with a different form of Bond, when they introduced Roger Moore as 007 in "Live and Let Die".

Llewelyn never shared the spoils of having a film contract, nor did he receive bonuses based on the series' success so it was on the receiving a larger part in the "Licence To Kill" story that Llewelyn remarked it was the first time he had made any real money out of Bond.

"The World Is Not Enough" saw Q hand over to R (John Cleese) in preparation for Llewelyn's retirement from the Bond films. It was to be his last Bond film, whether he truly intended this or not.

On the 19th of December 1999, exactly a month after the opening of "The World Is Not Enough", Llewelyn was driving home from a book-signing of "Q: The Biography of Desmond Llewelyn" when his vehicle collided with another on the A27 in East Sussex. The other driver was seriously injured and Desmond passed away in hospital a few hours later - he was 85. At his memorial service, friends and family from throughout his life and career appeared to pay tribute. His sons spoke as well as many of his Bond colleagues, including Roger Moore, who delivered the eulogy.


Q in Thunderball
Above: Sean Connery and Desmond Llewelyn on the set of "Thunderball"

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