"M" is a fictional character in Ian Fleming's James Bond series; the character is the Head of Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6. After the long period between Licence to Kill (1989) and GoldenEye (1995), the Bond producers brought in Dame Judi Dench to take over as the new M. Dench played the role of M throughout actor Pierce Brosnan's tenure as Bond.
Dench's M was never referred to by name on-screen.
- Tanner: "Seems your hunch was right, 007. It's too bad the Evil Queen of Numbers wouldn't let you play it... (Bond clears his throat at Tanner to tell him that she is right behind him)"
- M: "You were saying?"
- Tanner: "No, no, I was just..."
- M: "Good, because if I want sarcasm, Mr. Tanner, I'll talk to my children, thank you very much."
- ―M scolds Tanner for insubordination.[src]
Known only by her prefix "M", the character has recently become the new Head of MI6 in GoldenEye. Few personal details are revealed, with the exception that she studied law at the University of Oxford and has children. At the time of the GoldenEye incident, her 00-Section subordinates are still adjusting to the "evil queen of numbers" and her preference for statistics and analysis rather than impulse and instinct (and bourbon to her predecessor's cognac). Tensions flare over her perceived methods during James Bond's mission briefing. She gives the spy an impromptu dressing-down; calling him a "sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War." and states that, despite her analytical caution, she has no compunction about sending him to his death (but will not do so on a whim). She sends Bond to investigate the theft of the GoldenEye weapon system and, with a trace of warmth, tells him to come back alive.
Several years later, during the events of Tomorrow Never Dies, M is involved in a joint operation to investigate and neutralise a terrorist flea market on the Russian border. She joins General Bukharin from Russia, Britain's Admiral Roebuck and a handful of other military brass in the Ministry of Defence Situation Room, as 007 relays live intel from the field. Ignoring her cautious appraisal of the situation, the Admiral and General hastily order a cruise missile strike on the bazaar. However, shortly afterward it is revealed that one of the terrorist aircraft is armed with a Soviet SB-5 nuclear torpedo. Unable to abort the missile, Bond is forced to steal the plane - along with its deadly cargo. After the mysterious sinking of the HMS Devonshire, supposedly an unprovoked attack by the Chinese, M and Admiral Roebuck cross swords over the proper response: with Roebuck opting for retaliatory action and M favouring caution; suspecting that the ship was sent off course by a third party. To that end, M uncharacteristically sends Bond on a mission to Hamburg in order to "pump information" from his old flame, Paris Carver, now married to suspicious media mogul, Elliot Carver.
At some point prior to The World Is Not Enough, M is approached by fellow Oxford alumni, Sir Robert King. His daughter, Elektra, was kidnapped by the anarchist, Renard. She advises him not to pay the ransom and sends 009 to kill her captor. Elektra escapes before he does, resultantly harbouring a deep grudge against M and her father. In November 1999, Elektra conspires with Renard to deliver a fertiliser bomb into the SIS Building, under the pretence of returning Sir Robert's money. King is killed in the blast, but M is unscathed. Later, playing the innocent victim, Elektra manipulates M into personally coming to Baku to "protect" her from Renard. She kidnaps M and holds her captive in the Maiden's Tower in Istanbul; watching a clock count down to a nuclear catastrophe. Demonstrating improvisational skills, she rewires the clock to supply power to a GPS locator card Bond had given to her. 007 also finds himself captive at the Tower, but escapes and liberates M from her cell. She follows Bond, as he chases Elektra and coldly shoots her dead. After Renard is killed, MI6 attempts to locate 007 and Dr. Jones using a thermal-imaging satellite. They unwittingly catch them both in a compromising position, much to M's evident distaste.
After Bond is captured in North Korea during Die Another Day, M reluctantly trades them the terrorist, Zao, in exchange for him; believing he had cracked under torture and was haemorrhaging information. She meets the imprisoned spy on-board a British warship in Hong Kong. Callously appraising his situation, she informs him that he is bound for MI6's evaluation center in the Falklands, his Double-O status rescinded, along with his freedom. After she leaves, Bond escapes to find the men who set him up. M is grilled by her U.S. counterpart, Damian Falco, who suspects her of helping him escape. When Bond returns to London, she arranges to meet him in a disused tube station and reinstates him, assigns him a partner and dispatches him to investigate the suspicious Gustav Graves in Iceland. Later, as North Korea prepares to invade the South with the assistance of Graves, M meets with Falco at a U.S. Command Bunker near the demilitarised zone. She takes him to task for misleading her and sends 007 into North Korea to stop Graves. She is last seen following the shutdown of the Icarus super-weapon, breathing a sigh of relief.
Video Game appearances
Judi Dench lent her likeness to the The World Is Not Enough video game. She also provided her voice in a few video games. In Everything or Nothing, she briefs Bond before his missions. She had a short role in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent where she narrates at the beginning regarding the player.
M effectively gives the game's opening narration while reviewing MI6 employee Hunter who was shot in the right eye three years prior by Dr. No. In order to test whether the reckless agent is unfit for duty, she has him put in a simulator with Agent 007. After the agent failed, she fired him for recklessness and the 'death' of 007.
After the previous M retired, the new M was promoted from her position in statistics to head of MI6. After taking the office, she made many changes including largely removing the "Secret" aspects of the Secret Service, much to the dismay of many employees, and her loyalty to statistics earned her the name "The Evil Queen of Numbers". She nearly forced Bill Tanner to quit his position by changing his title from "Chief of Staff" to "Senior Analyst".
After Agent 007 was captured in the field by French authorities for attempting to sabotage the launch of the Tigre helicopter, which he defended as an attempt to stop its theft by Janus Crime Syndicate. M was skeptical of 007's assessment of the situation, but their meeting was cut short by Moneypenny informing them that the Tigre had been found. They rushed to the briefing room where they watched a live satellite feed of the destruction of Severnaya, due to its being the Tigre 's final location. After assessing the situation as the work of the GoldenEye weapon, which M believed to not exist due to the Soviets not having had the budget or resources to build it. While she was still skeptical of the Janus Crime Syndicate's involvement, she sent 007 on Assignment GoldenEye to find the lone survivor of the Severnaya incident and to see if she knows who the inside man that allowed the Tigre 's thieves to enter the facility.
Behind the scenes
- She is the first M to interact with the film's main villain (The World Is Not Enough).
- M wasn't named on screen. Her real name Barbara Mawdsley was devised from the GoldenEye script, which is also the name of her literature counterpart.
- (by Bill Tanner)
- (1999). The World Is Not Enough (Blu-Ray). 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Event occurs at 00:05:57. "We read law at Oxford together."
- (1997). Tomorrow Never Dies (Blu-Ray). 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Event occurs at 00:25:20. "Friday 11, April, 1997 Late Edition"
- (1999). The World Is Not Enough (Blu-Ray). 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Event occurs at 00:23:53. "Receipt dated 15th November 1999"
- West, Nigel (2010). Historical dictionary of Ian Fleming's world of intelligence: fact and fiction. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, p.45. ISBN 978-0-7524-2896-3.
- Rimington, Stella (2008). Open secret: the autobiography of the former Director-General of MI5. London: Arrow Books, p.244. ISBN 978-0-09-943672-0.