When I did my mini-review of “Skyfall” I speculated out that James Bond must be a Time Lord because he keeps changing his appearance. However, he’s not the only Gallifreyan in the mix. MI-6 is lousy with Time Lords, and here’s the proof…
Doctor Who’s arch nemesis (apart from the Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, Sontorans, etc.) was another Time Lord known as The Master. Like The Doctor, The Master could regenerate, and his appearance changed over the long life of the series.
Bond’s arch nemesis was Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Blofeld changes appearance only one less time than Bond himself. He first appears in the second Bond movie, “From Russia with Love.” Played by Anthony Dawson (who, oddly enough, starred as Dr. Strangways in “Dr. No”) and voiced by Eric Pohlman, Blofeld is never named or seen. He is referred to as Number 1, and we only see his signature white cat.
The next movie, “Goldfinger,” is free from Blofeld’s clutches, but he does return in “Thunderball.” Once again he is played by Dawson and voiced by Pohlman, and once again his face is obscured, his name is not spoken, and we only see the cat.
Blofeld comes into his own in the fourth Bond movie, “You Only Live Twice.” This is the first time we see Blofeld’s face and hear his name given as anything other than “Number 1.” Actor Donald Pleasance brings to life all of the “madman with a cat” clichés. His bald pate and Nehru jacket served as the template for future Blofelds and parodies for decades to come. Telly Savalas followed the bald theme in the forgettable “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, but Charles Gray added a gray pate in the also forgettable “Diamonds Are Forever”.
Sometime in the mid-1970s a disagreement broke out between producers Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli. Blofeld was a Saltzman’s character, but Broccoli thought that the cold war villain should be updated with even crazier megalomaniacs. There was some legal posturing, and after a parting of the ways, Broccoli killed off the Blofeld character in the opening sequence of “For Your Eyes Only.” Saltzman retaliated by making the non-Eon production film “Never Say Never Again” with Sean Connery, and resurrected Blofeld in the form of the redoubtable Max von Sydow.
Conclusion – Blofeld is a Time Lord.
Bond’s allies could also change appearance frequently, and none did this with more frequency than the trustworthy Felix Leiter of the CIA. Starting with Jack Lord in “Dr. No,” Leiter has been played by eight different actors, including the non-EON productions. Only two actors have repeated the role – Jeremy Wright in the with the current Bond, Daniel Craig, and David Heddison, who had the misfortune to be eaten by a shark in “Licensed to Kill,” ending Leiter’s run in the pre-Craig reboot era.
Conclusion – Leiter is a Time Lord
Even Doctor Who’s companions could turn out to be Time Lords, or at least exhibit regenerative capabilities. In the MI-6 world, it was the ever faithful Miss Moneypenny who frequently regenerate. Lois Maxwell played the roll the most number of times, an amazing 14 movies, the most of any actor for a Bond roll. She started with “Dr. No” in 1962 and ended with “A View to a Kill” in 1985. Her longevity and visible aging on-screen made me doubt her Time Lord Status. However, in the Dalton years she was replaced by Carolina Bliss, then by Samantha Bond during Pierce Brosnan’s reign. (On a side note, I got to see Samantha Bond on stage in person in London, and thoroughly enjoyed her in a Michael Frayn play, “Donkey’s Years.”)
Conclusion – Yes, Miss Moneypenny is a Time Lord
But what about the lettered characters, “M” and “Q”? Nope, they are not Time Lords. M was first played by Bernard Lee, then later by Robert Brown and Judi Dench. In each of these cases M is a designation of position, and does not refer to an individual. Therefore, the actors in those roles aren’t necessarily playing the same person. In fact, Zuchovsky tells Bond, “I hear the new M is a lady”, indicating someone new is in that position.
The same can be said for Q. In the novels, and in “Dr. No”, Major Boothroyd is the quartermaster, and hence “Q”. I guess it could be argued that Peter Burton and Desmond Llewelyn both played a quartermaster named Boothroyd, but few associated Llewelyn with that name. When John Cleese came into the role he was clearly Boothroyd’s apprentice, and took on the Q title only in the last Brosnan film. So, for convenience sake we’ll say that Q and M are not Time Lords.
So, what does all this speculation mean? Simply that as Doctor Who has been able to survive for decades simply by conveniently changing actors and coming up with a very good explanation as to why the appearance changed, perhaps Bond has those same traits. The character is rebooted, re-cast, and regenerated, and after 50 years still seems to be as popular as ever.
One thought on “The Time Lords of MI-6”
Once upon a time, 1977, MI-6 [in that case ‘Felix’] was very helpful.
Pues, Felice Navidad Felix