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Desmond Llewelyn


35 Years of Q in he James Bond Films 1963-1998 | Desmond Llewelyn (1914-1999)

19th December, 2012

On December 19th 1999, actor Desmond Llewelyn lost his life in a tragic road accident when the car he was driving was involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle. He was 85 years young.

Everyone at 007 MAGAZINE had known Desmond since our first meeting with him in the early 1980s, and over nearly two decades I grew to know him very well. His sudden death affected us all deeply, as it did the world of James Bond fans who had grown to love him in the role of Q. Fans worldwide were beside themselves with grief and had difficulty coming to terms with not only the violent nature of his passing, but also that he should be taken from us at the height of his fame and, because he showed no sign of slowing down in his ninth decade; his energy levels at 85 would have put many men half his age to shame!

Desmond made the role of Q his own, and from 1963 to 1999 supported no less than five James Bond actors: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan.

Shortly before his passing People magazine asked him how long he intended to continue in the Bond series: "As long as the producers want me and the Almighty doesn’t."

Desmond always supported the James Bond themed events I organised at Pinewood Studios from 1990 to 1998 and would also sometimes visit our offices, where on one occasion he recorded the amusing dialogue for our then automated telephone lines. His support was always very much appreciated and we would reciprocate when possible by arranging lucrative public speaking appearances for him.

On the day and through the week Desmond passed I received many emails, letters, and cards from 007 MAGAZINE readers offering their condolences and wanting to voice their feelings about his passing. Taking Desmond’s death very hard at the time, and also because of personal problems of my own, I felt unable to deal with the influx of other people’s emotional outpourings. Now, 13 years on, after re-discovering the file in which I kept their condolence correspondence, I thought the time was long overdue to leave some permanent record on the 007 MAGAZINE website in the form of a memorial tribute to my kind friend Desmond Llewelyn - our Q!

Graham Rye
Editor & Publisher

“The world may never be enough again. We will miss you!”
Gerry McGrath - Scotland, UK

“My son and I met Desmond at the Pictureville cinema in Bradford in 1988 at a James Bond exhibition. He was a very lovely man and will be missed greatly. Our deepest sympathy at this very sad time.”
Mark & Mathew - UK

“Sorry to hear of Desmond’s passing. What I liked about him was he treated everyone like a friend. The Bond films will never be the same again. May he rest in peace. With deepest sympathy.”
John Boulter - UK

“I just thought I would like to say a big thanks to Desmond Llewelyn for his part in the Bond films. Things will never be the same again. Thanks and goodbye.”
Callum Hunt - UK

“I’d like to express my sorrow and say just how much enjoyment Desmond Llewelyn brought to me as Q in the Bond films. He will be greatly missed.”
Jonathan Boote - UK

“A very sad day indeed. I just wanted to say I heard your interview on Radio 5 this morning and think you said it all…
“There have been five Bond’s, but there will only ever be one Q.”
I know he was a close friend and I would like to offer my sympathy. I hope some way can be found to pay a fitting tribute.”
Andrew Francis - Surrey, UK
Desmond Lewelyn as Q in From Russia With Love (1963), Thunderball (1965) and The World Is Not Enough (1999)

ABOVE: (left) Desmond Llewelyn's first appearance as Q in From Russia With Love (1963) [with Sean Connery as James Bond]. (centre) Desmond Llewelyn as Q in Thunderball (1965) and (right) his final appearance in The World Is Not Enough (1999) with Pierce Brosnan as 007.

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Desmond Llewelyn, better known as Q in the Bond movies. Mr. Llewelyn was always someone I looked forward to seeing in the movies because he was such a part of the story and life of 007. I hope that Mr. Llewelyn is at peace.”
Heidi Erlichman - Denver, USA

“As are all Bond fans, and as one who has enjoyed meeting him on more than one occasion, I am of course very saddened to have learned about Desmond Llewelyn’s passing. A very, very sad day. With sorrow…”
George Martin, USA

“I’d just like to say how saddened and shocked I was to hear of the tragic death of Q. He was the man everybody wanted to be their granddad (I know I certainly did). He had such a short screen time in the Bond films yet everybody remembered him and his gadgets. Despite his retirement, he’ll be mourned by Bond fans the world over.”
Joyce Smith - Ireland

“It was with great sadness that I arrived home this evening to hear that Desmond Llewelyn had been killed in a car accident.
As Q he gave much pleasure to me and to countless others around the world. As the scrap dealer in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang he still delights my own children today.
I was fortunate to meet Desmond at Pinewood at one of your events a few years ago. As with all stars, I could but stand back and watch him, disbelieving that I was with someone who had for many years been this larger than life character on the screen. Finally, I had the chance to ask for his autograph, which he did with pleasure. Then I realised that I should have asked for a photo with him. Half-expecting a testy brush off, I was pleased to find that Desmond was not like this at all. He was very generous and took time to pose for the photo.
I am glad that I took that time to thank him for the pleasure he brought to me and to the countless fans around the world through his work.
Please convey my condolences to his family at this very sad time.”
Mark Hoare - Surrey, UK
Desmond Llewelyn as Coggins in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang | Desmond at his Bexhill-on-Sea home with many gadgets from the James Bond films

ABOVE: (left) Desmond Llewelyn as Coggins in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) directed by Ken Hughes from Ian Fleming's novel. (right) Desmond at his Bexhill-on-Sea home with many gadgets from the James Bond films.

“We are saddened to learn of the passing of one of the most familiar faces in the James Bond series. Our thoughts are with him and his family.”
Dave & Ed - Pennsylvania, USA

“I have just heard that Desmond Llewelyn has died tragically. This makes his appearance in the last film very ironic. He was a true star.
He will be missed.”
Paul McLaughlin, USA

“I have just heard the terrible news that Desmond Llewelyn has been killed in a car crash in Sussex. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Llewelyn at the Dublin premiere of GoldenEye a few years back and was touched at friendly and open he was. No doubt he will go down in history as one of the UK’s most loved actors.”
Mr. E. McCarthy - Ireland

“Q will be missed greatly. The best there ever was and ever will be. R.I.P.”
Mr. E. Eibbort - UK

“Here’s to you Mr. Llewelyn. Rest in Peace.”
Mr. G. R. Jones - UK

“Whilst this is a very sad day for Bond fans everywhere, there is one good thought; Desmond was able to film a farewell scene in The World Is Not Enough, in effect saying goodbye to Bond, and to Bond fans around the globe. Each time this film will be shown, whether in the cinema or on TV, for the rest of history, the curtain will be seen to close on Desmond’s film career in a warm, heartfelt, memorable way. It would have been such a crime for Q to be given no farewell, and it is unfortunate this became his cinematic epitaph. RIP.”
Dr. Paul Meaney, Oxford, UK

“I woke up this morning to the news that Desmond Llewelyn had been killed in a car crash and feel absolutely terrible about it. This is not a suitable way for a life to end at the age of 85.
This very sad day marks the passing of someone who genuinely made each one of the James Bond films in which he appeared (regardless of overall quality) a little bit brighter.
The Bond films are one of the few things in life that I can say I truly enjoy without question, but I know I will always feel like something is missing from this moment on.
Goodbye Q.”
John Laaks, USA

“The best gadget to come out of the James Bond movies was not really a gadget at all. It was a man, and his name was Q.
Thank you Mr. Llewelyn for bringing so much magic to a classic film series.
We will all miss you…”
Jim Botten, USA
Desmond Llewelyn as Q in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), The Living Daylights (1987) and GoldenEye (1995)

ABOVE: (left) Desmond Llewelyn as Q in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), The Living Daylights (1987) , (right) the GoldenEye image used on the cover of Sandy Hernu's biography 'Q - The Biography of Desmond Llewelyn' (1999).

“Q will never be replaced in our hearts. Condolences to the Llewelyn family from all of your many fans in the UK and far away.”
Steve Stone, UK

“I’m devastated, absolutely devastated.”
Dan Rolf, USA

And the world becomes just that much more sad.
The Almighty must have seen all the good work done in the lab.
Rest In Peace Desmond Llewelyn”
Britany Hunter, USA

“Condolences to the Llewelyn family from all your many fans here in far-away New Zealand.”
Franek Kluski, New Zealand

“I feel like I lost my father. We will miss you Q. God bless you and thank you for being there for us. You will be missed and loved.”
Tom Betti, Ohio, USA

“Everyone else is saying the same thing, but I just wanted to add my feelings as well.
We’ll miss you, Mr. Llewelyn.”
Dale Sherman, USA

“He’s one of the only reasons I watched Bond movies. This is truly a sad day for Bond fans all over the world. We all love you Mr. Llewelyn, and will deeply miss you. I’ll always remember him for his funny interactions with Bond. I’m really going to miss the fellow. His appearances always made me laugh and smile.
Goodbye Desmond. Take care up there…”
With a tear in my eye.”
Jim, USA
Desmond Llewelyn as Q in GoldenEye (1995)

The one man we could count on
To be there through and through
Died today in England;
He was known to us as Q

In From Russia With Love he came to us
Stuck with us through the rest
Missed only a pair of films
But was always at his best

The sole constant throughout the series
Always around for a laugh
If not for him Bond might only have loved once
If even making that

Desmond will be greatly missed
among our friendly crowd.
He’s certainly given me much enjoyment
and left me laughing out loud.

Normal reaction would be a cloud of despair
But we all know what they say
Desmond is forever
And it will forever stay that way

Dedicated to the late Desmond Llewelyn -
and thanks for 17 great performances!

Ben Corby, USA

“My condolences go to Desmond’s family and friends. I will miss Q dearly. I might be young (14) but Q still made a huge impact on my life as he did for Bond and everybody else. May he rest in peace.
I think that the farewell in The World Is Not Enough was fulfilling. I live in Sydney And I just heard the news on TV. Even my brother, who’s 6, knows who he is. It’s just a sad day for everybody, not just Bond fans, as Desmond Llewelyn gave so much. He will always be with us in spirit and as long as Bond goes on, we will forever remember him as our gadget man.
Farewell and rest in peace.”
L. J. Kong - Sydney, Australia

“Wherever you are, know that we love you and miss you, that we honor your memory with more respect that we would give most heads of state, and that your family need never want for sympathy in their great and terrible loss. We share that loss as best we can, as observers, as fans, as fellow human beings, and lastly, though most of us never knew the man beyond his simple shadow cast on the pale white of a theatre screen, with all the respect we can muster, as friends.
God bless him.”
R. Cotton - USA

“My condolences to the family of Mr. Llewelyn.
We lost a great actor. The most respectable character that ever appeared in a Bond movie. We will all miss him and Bond films will never be the same.”
Benjamin Lind, Germany

“You gave us so much enjoyment.
May you rest in peace.”
Peter Hancock, UK

“I would like to offer my deepest sympathy to the Llewelyn family. Desmond will always be remembered with great fondness and respect.”
Jonathan Boote, UK

“Desmond Llewelyn’s scene in The World Is Not Enough made me choke. Surely, I thought, this can’t really be his last appearance, there’s life in the old boy yet?
Sadly, today, Desmond has been taken from us, and in the most tragic of circumstances.
I never met him, nor even knew him outside the world of 007, but somehow, I feel like I have lost an old friend. Goodbye Q, you were one hell of a field operative.”
Ian, UK

“I am really saddened to learn of the passing of Desmond. It’s like losing a lifelong friend. May God bless him and his family!”
Britt Myre, USA

“Goodbye Desmond Llewelyn…we’ll all miss you.”
Zac Boyer, USA

“I have just heard the tragic news about the sudden death of Q. I have been a big fan of James Bond for as long as I can remember. It seems so unfair that he should leave us this way. I recently watched The World Is Not Enough in which Desmond shone.
I will always remember him as one of my favourite characters in the Bond films.
It is sad that he was only recently talking about possibly not being up to doing the next film, and he was there for his fans right up to the end at his book signing.
Please pass on my deepest, most sincere condolences to his family and friends.”
Chris Thomas, Isle of Wight, UK

“I’ve been sitting here all day and have honestly been taking Desmond’s death very hard and personal…it’s not fair for someone as genuine as him to die like that, so unexpectedly…it’s so ironic that in a career surrounded by technology and gadgetry in the movies he had none to save his on life…”
Paul, USA

“He will be missed and never forgotten! After meeting him in person at the premiere of Octopussy in 1983, this was a dream come true for me.”
Ian Jacklin, UK

“I was very sad to hear of the death of Desmond Llewelyn. He was my favourite character in the James Bond films. Mr. Llewelyn as Q was great and memorable. We’ll miss Q.”
Zsofia Sebok, Budapest, Hungary

“On behalf of every 007 fan in the Southern Hemisphere I would like to say how sad it was to hear that Desmond Llewelyn has passed away. He was a true legend and will be greatly missed. Q Branch will never be the same. R.I.P. Q”
Ben Couzens, USA

“Please give my sympathy to the family of Mr. Llewelyn. His loss is very sad for the entire world.”
Dinos Bados, Greece
Editor & Publisher Graham Rye photographed with Desmond Llewelyn during one of the actor's visits to the 007 MAGAZINE office

ABOVE: (left) Editor & Publisher Graham Rye photographed with Desmond Llewelyn during one of the actor's visits to the 007 MAGAZINE office. (top right) Desmond Llewelyn at the 1990 James Bond convention at Pinewood Studios, and (bottom right) Desmond's final scene as Q in The World Is Not Enough (1999).

“To the family of Desmond Llewelyn
My deepest condolences to you on your loss. The world is a much poorer place now. He was a ‘favourite uncle’ to many, many people. A very sad loss. He is in all our thoughts.”
Paul Smith, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK

“Please pass on my sincere condolences to the family of Desmond Llewelyn for their sad loss. The World Is Not Enough was worth the entrance fee for the pre-titles sequence alone; an excellent film which will no doubt be remembered for Desmond Llewelyn’s last dignified performance.”
Graeme Lloyd, Hertfordshire, UK

“I was deeply shocked to hear of Desmond Llewelyn’s death. Q was my favourite character in the James Bond films. The beginning of the year 1999, in a letter I ask from him a photo with his signature. He send me one shortly, and dedicated to me with his best wishes.
I was very happy, and in another letter, I thanks to him. We will never forget him. Best wishes to all his family, I will never forget him. Rest in peace Q.”
Hajnalka Golen, Hungary

“Through the pages of 007 MAGAZINE I would like to pay tribute to Desmond Llewelyn, somebody whom I knew as Q and also as a friend.
Desmond was a truly caring and generous person and our paths crossed many times. We appeared in a couple of TV documentaries together and one of these I had the privilege of filming at his home in Bexhill.
Desmond was also good enough to open my 1995 exhibition ‘From Eastbourne With Love’, something a lot of actors would not have done.
Just days before his tragic death, he had come to see me at Battle Abbey as he wanted to film scenes for the HTV programme ‘Life of Q’. Sadly, on the day I had flu and was not on duty. Desmond’s biographer, Sandy Hernu, later told me he had been disappointed not to see me.
Fate took its course with a couple of other meetings that we were due to have, and now we have lost somebody who was a privilege to know; a genuine, approachable and lovely person.”
Daryl Burchmore, Battle Abbey, East Sussex, UK

“Dear Family
I am sorry to see Desmond leave us like he did. HE was a Great man to us all. James Bond pictures will never be the same without him. Even though Q in the J.B. movies is not supposed to like J.B. you can see through the years that Desmond did like His relationship with James Bond.
In the last movie, The World Is Not Enough, Desmond was amazing, and he was very witty. Even though I have never met Desmond personally, I feel a very big loss. The world has lost a Great man. God bless you all.”
James J. Morales, USA

“Monday 20 December ’99 is a day that is still fresh in my mind. That morning I heard the shocking news about the tragic death of Mr. Llewelyn.
My brother and I want express our condolences to his family. May his relatives find comfort in the idea that people all over the world mourn his loss.
I also would like to express my sympathy to you and the employees of your Club, as I know Mr. Llewelyn was closely involved with the conventions and other Club activities.
Desmond Q Llewelyn lives on in our hearts.”
Wim van de Leur, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium

For Desmond - our Q.
We first met you in 1963
And you were a great person
on and off screen
You have been with us
for all but two films
But your contribution to 007
Can never be forgotten
You were always pleased to attend
the club meetings, and had time for everyone
Now sadness falls upon all of us
as we now must say farewell
to a true friend

Neil Robert Butcher 19/12/99, UK

Desmond Llewelyn on the set of Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) with director Roger Spottiswoode

“I write with great sadness and shock in hearing about the sudden tragic car accident of Desmond Llewelyn, actor from the James Bond movies. I had just received his biography only two weeks ago. I am deeply saddened by his passing.
I will never forget his presence on the Silver Screen. Desmond (Q) Llewelyn the Gadget Master you will always be remembered by us fans worldwide.”
Baldwin Collins, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica

“To everyone that knew Desmond Llewelyn, I’m very sorry to hear the sad news. Desmond was a well-known and respected person. I know that on the film set he will be missed a lot. I send my deepest sympathy to Mr. Llewelyn’s family.”
Mr. C. A Newman, Edenbridge, Kent, UK