Q is probably the most enduring character to have been created by the Bond movies. Desmond Llewelyn, the actor now forever associated with the role, was the only actor to return to the series for its relaunch in GoldenEye and he has appeared in all but two of the films. However, unlike the other supporting characters Q's heritage in the novels of Ian Fleming is not clear.

There is a reference to Q in Chapter 3 of "Casino Royale", the first Bond book, when M says to Bond: "Go over a few days before the big game starts and get your hand in. Have a talk to Q. about rooms and trains, and any equipment you want." There is a similar reference in the following novel, "Live And Let Die". However, this appears to be an abbreviation for Q Branch rather than the codename for a particular person. Q Branch features occasionally in the novels, supplying Bond with equipment and gadgets (albeit somewhat less ostentatious ones than those in the movies). It has been suggested that the letter Q was used as a reference to the term Quartermaster, the officer responsible for supplying equipment to an army unit.

The true origin of the Q character therefore seems to lie in "Dr No" which includes a sequence featuring the Secret Service Armourer, Major Boothroyd, who replaces Bond's Beretta with a new Walther PPK. Boothroyd is a weapons expert but there is no actual reference to him being associated with Q Branch. The character was based on a real person who advised Fleming on changing Bond's weapon, Major Geoffrey Boothroyd.

Being a generally faithful adaptation, the movie of Dr No featured an appearance from Major Boothroyd, as played by Peter Burton. Burton was apparently unavailable to reprise the role in From Russia With Love so the part was recast and it was Desmond Llewelyn who presented Bond with his Q Branch briefcase. Llewelyn's character is referred to on-screen as the Equipments Officer, perhaps implying that this is not the Armourer, although he is credited as Boothroyd. Goldfinger then went on to define the character, introducing his exasperation with Bond's treatment of his equipment. From here on the character is always referred to as Q, except on one occasion in The Spy Who Loved Me when Anya calls him Major Boothroyd.

We know little about Q other than his opinions towards Bond. However, one line of dialogue in Diamonds Are Forever indicated that he does have children and he uses his technical expertise in order to amuse them. However, Desmond Llewelyn has developed his own ideas about Q's background. As such, it seems that despite Q's reputation as just an inventor he was apparently quite an athlete in his youth - he attended Radley (Llewelyn's old school), where he played rugby and cricket and rowed, before going to Trinity College, Cambridge (which was attended by one of Llewelyn's sons). He then lived in Gwent, Wales, playing cricket for the MCC and rugby for Newport, before being recruited by the Secret Service. He is also an honorary member of the Fire Brigade College at Moreton-in-March, Gloucestershire. Llewelyn attempted to confirm his ideas by wearing the appropriate ties in various films.

Although primarily seen in his workshop, Q has often ventured out of Britain, normally to deliver some equipment to Bond. He occasionally operates undercover; in particular in Tomorrow Never Dies he poses as a car hire agent. Although not seen clearly on-screen, his name badge revealed his assumed identity to be one Quinten Quigley! Of course, Q's most notable support to Bond is in Licence To Kill when he takes leave from MI6 in order to help Bond in the field.

Llewelyn appeared as Q in 17 of the movies. The World Is Not Enough marked his last appearance before his death, with Q being seen to prepare for retirement and grooming a successor. Although the way was left open for him to return this was not to be, and Major Bootroyd was seen to make use of his own escape route. By the time of Die Another Day, the new Q is in place and even refers to his predecessor. The origin of the name Q is also made clear when Bond refers to him as "Quartermaster".

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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