- "I never joke about my work, 007."
- ― Q (Desmond Llewelyn).
Major Boothroyd (also known by the initial "Q") was the fictional quartermaster of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6). The character was portrayed by actor Desmond Llewelyn and appeared in the James Bond film series from From Russia With Love (1963) to The World Is Not Enough (1999). The character was also featured in the 2005 video-game adaptation of From Russia with Love, with the likeness of Desmond Llewelyn and voiced by Philip Proctor.
Llewelyn is the second of four different actors who have filled the role of Q in the EON Productions series of films, with a further two appearing in video-games and unofficial productions. He was succeeded in the role by John Cleese, who became the new Q after his predecessor's implied retirement in 1999.
From Russia with Love
Q (standing for Quartermaster), like M, is a job title rather than a name. He is the head of Q Branch, the fictional research and development division of the British Secret Service. Replacing actor Peter Burton, who portrayed Major Boothroyd in the first James Bond film Dr. No (1962), Llewelyn's quartermaster makes his first appearance in From Russia with Love (1963) and provides James Bond with a standard issue attaché case. He explains how the case functions and notes its hidden features, such as a throwing-knife, anti-tampering mechanism with a magnetised tear-gas cartridge (disguised as a tin of talcum powder), and fifty gold sovereigns concealed in the lining of the case. Also included was an Armalite AR-7 folding sniper-rifle with an infrared scope and .25 ACP ammunition. Notably, real-life AR-7s fire a .22 Long Rifle cartridge. It is quite possible that Q has modified a normal Armalite AR-7 to accept .25 ACP cartridges.
In Goldfinger, Q replaces 007's Bentley 3½ Litre with an Aston Martin DB5, implying that the vehicle had been provided by Q Branch, rather than being Bond's personal vehicle as per the Ian Fleming series of novels. The DB5 was equipped with bullet-proof windows, revolving number plates, smoke screen projector, oil slick dispensers and twin Browning machine guns; all operated via a set of trigger switches hidden under the arm rest. Notably, he also reveals the vehicle's most fantastical feature - a passenger ejector seat, triggered by a switch concealed in the gear-stick. Bond is incredulous, remarking that the quartermaster must be joking. With complete seriousness, Q famously replies "I never joke about my work, 007."
In Thunderball, Q - dressed in an outlandish blue Hawaiian shirt with pineapples - makes his first appearance in the field, travelling to the Bahamas to personally outfit Bond with his equipment. He demonstrates a modified Breitling Top Time wristwatch and an underwater camera (both containing built-in Geiger counters), an underwater propulsion unit (with harpoon-launcher), a compact flare pistol, a radioactive homing pill (designed to be ingested), and a miniature rebreather which provides Bond with four extra minutes of air whilst diving.
You Only Live Twice
In 1967's You Only Live Twice, Q makes his second appearance in the field to supervise assembly of the Little Nellie auto-gyro. Frustrated with 007's remarks, the quartermaster retorts that his journey to Japan has been long and tiring, probably pointlessly so, and consequently he is not in the mood for the spy's quips. He implies that Bond has used the auto-gyro before off-screen and notes that Q Branch have made some improvements in the interim. Judging from Q's briefing and Bond's reactions, the aircraft's weapon systems appear to have been the subject of the changes; with machine guns, flamethrowers, aerial mines, rockets and heat-seeking missiles equipped for 007's reconnaissance of SPECTRE's launch site.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
- Q: "Look, James, I know that we haven´t always exactly seen... Well, don´t forget, if there´s anything you need..."
- James Bond: "Thank you, but this time I have the gadgets and I know how to use them."
- ―Q congratulates Bond during the wedding.[src]
Q briefly appears in the pre-title sequence of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, during which he attempts to pitch to M the idea of improving the Secret Service's obsolete equipment via miniaturisation. As an example, he presents radioactive lint, which he notes could be utilised for antipersonnel and tracking purposes. M, however, is more distracted by 007's lack of progress on Operation Bedlam and wants to know his present location.
At the end of the film, Q is seen in attendance at James and Tracy's wedding. He congratulates him and confesses that he had thought him rather irresponsible in the past, but on this occasion he has no reason to complain. Giving him a friendly pat on the back, Q notes that while they haven't always seen eye-to-eye, he offers his assistance if Bond ever needs anything. As the married couple depart, Q walks over to the teary Moneypenny and dusts off the hat which Bond had thrown her in a parting gesture, noting that he "never had any respect for government property."
Diamonds Are Forever
In Diamonds Are Forever Bond assumes the identity of diamond smuggler Peter Franks with the help of Q, who provides him with false fingerprints off-screen. Bond telephones Q after meeting with his contact in the diamond-smuggling pipeline, Tiffany Case and voices his appreciation. The quartermaster informs 007 that Franks has killed his captors and escaped, leaving Bond to run after Franks without hanging up. Later, Q joins Bond in Las Vegas and provides him with a voice alteration machine for mimicking Blofeld's deputy and casino manager, Bert Saxby. Bond remarks that the inventor had surpassed himself, although Q admits that he had constructed a similar device as a plaything for his children the previous Christmas. While Bond rescues Whyte House owner Willard Whyte, Q makes use of the casino's slot machines to test an electromagnetic RPM controller ring which he had been aching to try out.
The Man with the Golden Gun
The character did not make an appearance in 1973's Live and Let Die, aside from a brief mention when Moneypenny hands Bond his magnetic wristwatch, which Q had repaired off-screen. His next appearance would be in The Man with the Golden Gun, where he identifies the golden bullet which Bond recovered from Saida and gives him the name of its manufacturer: a gunsmith named Lazar. Later, Q travels to Hong Kong, along with M and Professor Frazier. The three prepare to meet with rogue solar energy scientist Gibson on-board the wreck of the RMS Queen Elizabeth to discuss his return to Britain. However, before they can meet, the scientist is shot by assassin Francisco Scaramanga. Brought on-board the ship, Bond is briefed by the men and suggests infiltrating likely culprit Hai Fat's mansion by posing as Scaramanga. To facilitate this, 007 asks Q to create a prosthetic third nipple to match the assassin's deformity.
After a fellow operative, Mary Goodnight, is kidnapped by Scaramanga and Nick Nack in Thailand, Bond returns to the Queen Elizabeth. During the debriefing, M incredulously mocks the fact that Scaramanga escaped in a flying car; prompting Q to explain that, not only is is plausible, but Q Branch is actually developing a similar vehicle. He is promptly told to shut up. Bond also mentions that Q's homing device has failed to locate Goodnight and Q, frustrated at the criticism of his equipment, cuts him off by asserting that they simply need to step up the reception sufficiently, only to be told by M to shut up again.
The Spy Who Loved Me
In The Spy Who Loved Me, Q temporarily operates out of a hidden workshop in Egypt where he is trialing several gadgets, including a metal tea tray capable of decapitating a dummy. Bond and Soviet agent Anya Amasova seek out his assistance when their recovered microfilm plans turn out to be incomplete. Analysing the film, Q and his team determine that one of its plans was drafted in Italy and further analysis by Bond reveals a partially concealed stamp of the Stromberg Shipping company, narrowing the search to Karl Stromberg's marine laboratory in Sardinia. On arriving in Sardinia, Q delivers Bond's new Lotus Esprit by ferry and is greeted by Anya as "Major Boothroyd". He cautions Bond and attempts to explain the vehicle's features to him, but is promptly cut off in mid-sentence by the spy's "Q, have I ever let you down?". As he throws the Esprit into gear, the frustrated quartermaster slams the driver's door shut, retorting "frequently!" Later, at the end of the film, Q was among M and KGB General Gogol to see 007 and Amasova in the escape pod's bed; the first of several awkward moments in the film series.
During the initial briefing scene in 1979's Moonraker, Q presents aerial footage of the Moonraker crash site and notes that no trace of the shuttle itself was found among the wreckage of its transport. He provides James with a wrist-mounted dart gun, triggered by flexing the wrist muscles. Bond, in typically cavalier fashion, tests it out in M's office by firing a dart into a nearby painting; prompting a frustrated "be careful, will you?".
Later in the film, Q is present at a Q-Branch workshop concealed in a Brazilian monastery. Bond finds him in the courtyard trialling a pair of explosive bolas; prompting a puzzled "Balls, Q?" double-entendre from the spy. The pair meet with M, where Q explains that the toxin 007 had found in Venice comes from a rare orchid indigenous to the Amazon jungle. Presumably he provides Bond off-screen with the boat he subsequently uses to search for Hugo Drax's base of operations. At the end of the film, Q is present in the mission control centre in Houston and assists with establishing an audio-visual link with Bond and Dr. Goodhead's shuttle. Unaware that the pair are making love on the screen behind him, Q innocently responds to the Minister of Defence's disgusted "My God, what's Bond doing?" with "I think he's attempting re-entry, sir."
For Your Eyes Only
Q also appeared in For Your Eyes Only, where an assistant named Smithers tests an arm cast battering ram when Bond comes in, wanting to identify a man who payed Melina Havelock's parent's killer and when 007 observes an umbrella that can bring out stings when wet, Bond jokingly asks "Stinging in the rain?" Which Q doesn't find funny. Bond was also amazed at how Q Branch managed to get Bond a new Lotus after the old one was destroyed. They head into the identification room and Q was annoyed when 007 pressed a few buttons on the code after finding it catchy. During the identifying, Q makes the nose look bigger making Bond say "A nose, not a banana, Q" which Q apologises and also accidentally makes the lips to small.
This took several hours and he told the last assistant to go home, saying he will lock up. After the description, they manage to identify him as Emile Leopold Locque. After Bond and Melina managed to escape from Aristotle Kristatos, Bond went to a church where Q, disguised as a reverend surprises Bond by removing his fake beard and informs him where Kristatos might be. After Milos Columbo killed Kristatos, Q managed to contact Bond, who was about to go skinny dipping with Melina, via his watch and connected him to the Prime Minister, but Bond left the watch on Melina's pet parrot's perch and the parrot insulted the Prime Minister. Thinking Bond went mad, they try to contact him but the parrot throws the watch in the ocean.
OctopussyQ appears in the field in Octopussy, very unhappy because of Bond as India has no proper facilities. 007 asks Q to fix his dinner jacket and give him a new gun, which he has his assistants do. Q shows him and Vijay a rope that could extend skyward when a button was pressed, but it malfunctions. After observing Smithers' successful demonstration of a thorn laced door, He puts a homing device and hearing piece in the Faberge egg and gives Bond a pen that can dissolve all metals and hear into the device. He was furious when Bond played with a camera on a lab tech. After getting his jacket back, Q had work to do and Vijay asks if he can help him and accepts. He observes Octopussy's island while Bond was on it and Vijay took over while Q took a break. By the time Q came back, he found Vijay wounded and before he died, Vijay managed to inform Q it was Kamal Khan's men. He later aids Bond in infiltrating Octopussy's old compound in a hot air balloon, although he is left behind to be kissed by girls that he saved from a henchman with a gun and when Bond departs to save Octopussy.
A View to a Kill
Q appears again in A View to a Kill. At the film's conclusion, he uses a portable camera device to find Bond when he was presumed dead, eventually finding him in the shower with Stacey Sutton, Q contacting M to inform him that Bond has been discovered but requests that they leave Bond alone for the moment.
The Living DaylightsIn The Living Daylights, Q helps (false) defector Georgi Koskov by getting him into a plane and back to London. After a failed attempt to find the sniper that Bond doesn't kill, he shows him and Moneypenny a gadget that Q Branch is making for the Americans "It's called a ghetto blaster!"
After Koskov was 'captured' by Necros, Bond comes down to Q who gives him a key ring finder which beeps when Bond whistles. The key ring can give off stun gas when Bond whistles 'Rule Britannia' and can explode if Bond does a wolf whistle. Before 007 could do the wolf whistle, Q stops him and before he went off after being called by Moneypenny, Q shows the key ring has a lock pick that can open 90% of the world's locks.
Along the way, Q has a tech to sit down on a couch and when the tech sits down, the couch soon swallows him and turns around to look like nothing was on it. After finding the identity of the sniper, Bond ran out as Q came in, taking the Aston Martin V8 Vantage with him and tried to warn Bond that the car "just had a new coat of paint."
Licence to Kill
In Licence to Kill, Moneypenny asks Q to go to Isthmus, under the pretense of being on leave and assist James who went rogue after being fired from MI6. He went to 007's hotel, posing as James' uncle. When James and former pilot Pam Bouvier, posing as Ms. Kennedy, came back from Franz Sanchez' casino and going in the hotel elevator, Pam gives James one of her Beretta 950 Jetfires and when James rings the doorbell, Q prepares to open it and Bond barges in and pushes Q into a chair and as Q gets up and explains his reasons, Q shows James some plastic explosive and when the door opens, Pam comes in waving another gun and James introduces her to Q as his cousin and Q kisses her on the cheek. He soon shows them a signature gun, disguised as a camera that can only take Bond's palm print and Pam soon gets out a camera and Q tries to warn her not to "use the flash!", but it was too late and a laser appears and hits a picture and Q soon grabs it from her and scowls her for fiddling with the camera.
Bond soon tries to get into the master bedroom with Pam but when she closes the door, Bond goes into the other room with Q and says "I hope you don't snore, Q." Posing as Bond's driver, Q waited while 007 sets the plastic explosive onto Sanchez' office window and soon drove him to the vantage point and was forced to leave him. After James was captured by the Hong Kong Narcotics and was rescued by Sanchez, James soon escaped Sanchez' place with the help of Sanchez' girlfriend Lupe, Q was told to try and leave but soon after Pam and James talked about her mission and soon helped Bond by putting back the $5 million that Bond stole and frames Milton Krest for the theft and after being dropped off by Bond, Q and Pam left to head back to the hotel.
The next morning, Q and Pam were informed by Lupe that Sanchez has hired Bond and takes him to his drug factory. Q informs Pam, via a rake with a radio, posing as a Mexican gardener and after informing Pam, he tosses away the rake and walks away.
Then after Bond killed Sanchez and was reinstated into MI6, Q also attends the party and when Pam ran down to the pool side and Bond jumps in after her, Q looks at the two and soon just finishes his drink, scowling before he goes back to the party.
In GoldenEye, James comes down to Q Branch to see Q in a wheelchair with a cast on his left leg and asks if it was skiing but Q soon fires a rocket from the cast into a wall and grins as he replies "Hunting."
He shows James a BMW Z3 and after Bond joked about the Stinger missiles, Q reminded him that he has "a licence to kill, not to break the traffic laws." He also shows 007 a leather belt that has a rappelling cord designed only to support Bond's weight. During the belt gadget talk, Bond played with a laptop and soon closes it as Q asked if he was finished and they soon see a tech getting squished in an airbag payphone booth.He also shows James an x-ray document scanner, disguised as a dinner tray. Q then showed James a pen which is a Class 4 grenade, three clicks arms the four second fuse, another three disarms it. When Bond pressed it three times, he jokingly asks "How long did you say the fuse was?" which Q soon snatches the pen back and disarms it while saying "Oh, grow up, 007." He shows the pen's demonstration and after it explodes and Q warns Bond not to say the joke, Bond just says "The writing's on the wall?" Which Q soon laughably replies "Along with the rest of him." After they witness a tech get airborne by and ejector seat, Q asks James to return some of the equipment in pristine order and soon discovers James touching a sandwich roll, Q takes it from him, saying "Don't touch that! It's my lunch!"
Tomorrow Never Dies
In Tomorrow Never Dies, Q, posing as a car rental salesman, appears to Bond to sign the insurance damage waiver and after being told about the dangers, Q tells him to bring the car back to him. Q soon shows him a BMW 750iL and tells him about the car's weaponry and also added a female guide voice and showed him a phone to drive the car. After accidentally denting the back of the car while using the phone remote, Q gives the phone to James who drives the car out of the warehouse and back and slows it down in front of Q and James thinks that they understand each other and Q just says "Grow up, 007" and walks away.
The World Is Not Enough
In his final film The World Is Not Enough while working on a boat, he sees James run past Q Branch to try and stop Sir Robert King from getting his money, but was too late. When the assassin gets away in a boat, 007 steals the unfinished boat and ignores Q's yelling as James soon chases after the assassin.
Q was frustrated when James destroyed the boat, he was hoping to use it for his retirement (away from 007). He introduced Bond to his successor by bringing him in from the 8-ball table elevator along with a BMW Z8 which 007 jokingly asks "If you're Q, does that make him R?" After R talked about the car and said "rather stocked" than "fully loaded" and also reminds R that he wasn't in Q Branch to think, he was in it to do what Q told him. When R went to put on a ski jacket for demonstration, Q was annoyed at R's tutorial on how to put a jacket on, rather than pulling a tag on the jacket and Q pulls it, causing R to be trapped in an inflatable ball. Before going down, Q gives 007 two final things, never to let them see him bleed and always have an escape plan before he activates the 8-ball elevator and is lowered down, never to be seen again.
Behind the scenes
Due to scheduling conflicts, Peter Burton was unavailable to return as Major Boothroyd in From Russia with Love (1963), so Desmond Llewelyn, a Welsh actor who was a fan of the Bond comic strip published in the Daily Express, accepted the part. However, screen credit for Llewelyn was omitted at the opening of the film and is reserved for the exit credits, where he is credited simply as "Boothroyd". Llewelyn's character is not referred to by this name in dialogue, but M does introduce him as being from Q Branch. Llewelyn would continue to play the role in every EON Productions James Bond film, with the exception of Live and Let Die, until his death in 1999. In the series, Boothroyd was preparing to retire during the events of The World is Not Enough and has clearly retired by the time of Die Another Day (2002).
- In the James Bond movies, the relationship between Q and Bond is one of fatherly exasperation ("Oh, do grow up, 007!") met with adolescent indifference. The exception is during From Russia with Love, Llewelyn's Bond debut, in which he simply introduces the gadgets, then makes sure Bond knows how to work the booby-trapped briefcase catches.)
- The gadgets supplied by Q are almost invariably destroyed as a result of Bond's use of them, and Q is constantly exhorting Bond to take better care of them and to occasionally read the instruction manual. Bond usually responds by displaying an instant mastery of whatever device Q hands to him.
- In addition to the tech laboratories, Q occasionally meets Bond in the field to deliver some equipment or to personally handle some specialized devices to assist Bond. This goes so far as in Licence to Kill where Q sides with Bond, supplying him with gadgetry and even helping him operationally despite Bond's having resigned from MI6.
- In a deleted scene in Tomorrow Never Dies, when Q was going to show James his new car, he opens the wrong box, revealing a jaguar.
- In real life (and in a twist of irony), Desmond Llewelyn was a complete technophobe and often times needed help on-set in explaining the gadgets; one interview includes him recalling a time he was staying in a hotel and asked another guest for help using his keycard, prompting an incredulous stare.