Desmond Llewelyn, who played Q until he was 85
Present in all but three films to date, the character of Q, or Major Boothroyd, is one of the most loved in the world of James Bond. Originally played by Peter Burton in ‘Dr. No’, and most memorably by Desmond Llewelyn, who continued in the role until he was 85, the character and his charm, camaraderie and gadgets have been sorely missed since Daniel Craig donned his dinner jacket and ordered his first Martini in 2006's Casino Royale. But, as Craig's Bond returns to the screen for the third time in ‘Skyfall’, he will be joined by British Actor Ben Wishaw in the role of Q.
On 23 May 1956, nearly three years after it was first published, Geoffrey Boothroyd put down his copy of ‘Casino Royale’ and wrote a letter to its author.
"Dear Mr. Fleming," he began, "I wish to point out that a man in James Bond's position would never consider using a .25 Beretta. It's really a lady's gun -- and not a very nice lady at that! Dare I suggest that Bond should be armed with a .38 or a nine millimetre -- let's say a German Walther PPK? That's far more appropriate."
Eight days later, Fleming wrote back, saying: "You have entirely convinced me and I propose, perhaps not in the next volume of James Bond's memoirs, but in the subsequent one, to change his weapons in accordance with your instructions...If ever there is talk of making films of some of James Bond's stories in due course, I shall suggest to the company concerned that they might like to consult you on some technical aspects."
Ben Wishaw is Q is 'Skyfall'
Fleming more than kept his word. When ‘Dr. No’ hit the shelves in 1958, so did the character of Major Boothroyd, whose first job as Bond's armorer was to strip him of his Berretta, tell him it was a "lady's gun" and replace it with the Walther PPK. When the book was adapted for the screen, so was the character.
But Boothroyd's influence didn't stop there. From 1956 until Fleming's death in 1963, the pair continued their written correspondence, exchanging ideas and advice about weapons and explosives (the letters were auctioned on 4 November 2004), and when the Bond books became films, it was Boothroyd's expertise that was needed when the producers wanted to blow up a helicopter for the climax of From Russia with Love.
An image of Boothroyd's actual gun was used in the cover art for the first edition of ‘From Russia With Love’, and he even made a documentary for the BBC, narrated by Sean Connery and unsurprisingly entitled The Guns of James Bond, which can still be seen if you're lucky enough to own a collector's edition Blu-Ray or DVD of ‘Dr. No’.