Bill Tanner

Bill Tanner is a recurring character in Fleming's novels; he is the Chief of Staff at MI6, and Bond's best friend in the Service. He is normally only referred to as Bill or Chief of Staff - his surname is not revealed until You Only Live Twice.

Tanner has featured in a number of the movies. The first was a brief appearance in The Man With The Golden Gun. The character does nothing other than stand behind M and the actor playing him (Michael Goodliffe) is not even credited. Then following the death of Bernard Lee, the Chief of Staff features in For Your Eyes Only by standing in for M (who is said to be on leave) and briefing Bond. The character played by James Villiers is particularly objectionable in his treatment of Bond and a million miles from the Fleming character, although under the circumstances this was perhaps understandable. The character is only ever referred to on screen as Chief of Staff, but is then credited just as Tanner, which must have confused anyone not familiar with the literary origins of the character.

More recently, Michael Kitchen played Tanner in GoldenEye, with this version of the character being much closer to Fleming's version. In the reverse of his previous appearance, there is no indication of Tanner's role in this film - he is just someone else at MI6 HQ. In fact some synopses simply call him an analyst. Tanner provides much humour in his scenes, particularly in his attitude towards the new M and the changes that she is making to MI6.

It was originally intended that Tomorrow Never Dies would also feature Tanner. However, when Michael Kitchen was unavailable, the part was rewritten for a new character, Charles Robinson, played by Colin Salmon. However, Raymond Benson's novelisation of the film kept to the original intentions and retains Tanner in this role. Tanner himself then returned for The World Is Not Enough, alongside Robinson, providing a welcome extra degree of continuity to Bond's world.

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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