The Minister of Defence

The movies of the late 70s and 80s featured another regular character alongside such familiar figures as Q, M and Moneypenny, namely the Minister of Defence. The character was created for the movies and was played by Geoffrey Keen. He appeared in all of movies between The Spy Who Loved Me and The Living Daylights.

As the title implies, the Minister is head of the British Ministry of Defence, but more importantly he was a politician answerable to the Prime Minister. He seemed to take a special interest in the Secret Service since he was often seen taking part in M's briefings. This is slightly unusual since MI6 actually comes under the jurisdiction of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, rather than the Defence Ministry. Indeed, the title of the character is something of a misnomer since he should actually be known as the Secretary of State for Defence, or Defence Secretary.

The Minister was named as Frederick Gray, although this was only used in his first two appearances. Bond and Gray seem to know each other prior to The Spy Who Loved Me; indeed they seem quite friendly with Bond calling him Freddy at one point. In subsequent films their relationship is much more formal, and at times Gray is seemingly hostile towards Bond.

Gray's appearance as a minister for Margaret Thatcher in For Your Eyes Only implies that he was a Conservative politician. However, this ignores the fact that The Spy Who Loved Me actually took place under a previous British Government! Even despite this, it was somewhat stretching credibility somewhat that the same person would be Minister of Defence for ten years, given the turbulent nature of British politics.

The nature of Licence To Kill meant that there was not a role for the character of the Minister of Defence. GoldenEye then brought about a revamp of the regular characters. However, Tomorrow Never Dies then featured an appearance by a Minister of Defence for the first time since The Living Daylights. Julian Fellowes plays the new character, who isn't given a name. Although recasting is common within the Bond movies, there is no evidence that this is intended to be another incarnation of Frederick Gray.

The Bond Film Informant was compiled by Matthew Newton. © Copyright MJ Newton. No part of this site may be reproduced without permission unless otherwise stated.

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