Ben Whishaw as Q in Spectre (Photo: Rex Features)
Ben Whishaw as Q in Spectre (Photo: Rex Features)

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The real-life Q from James Bond is a woman

In the films, the inventive head of gadgets at MI6 has always been played as a man

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By Emily Baker on

False fingerprints, invisible cars and jet packs are all in James Bond's repertoire of spy-enhancing devices, courtesy of the inventive head of gadgets, Q. Most recently played by Ben Whishaw; John Cleese, Peter Burton and Desmond Llewelyn have also taken up the role, cementing Q’s public identity as a man. Turns out this isn’t true.

In his keynote speech at the Women in IT Awards the head of the secret service, Alex Younger, revealed the real-life Q to be female. In a bid to encourage more women to join MI6, Younger said, “If any of you would like to join us, the real-life Q is looking forward to meeting you and I’m pleased to report that the real-life Q is a woman.”

MI6 have been trying to recruit more women for a while – it advertised jobs on Mumsnet last year, citing flexibility and “high emotional intelligence” as valuable traits for secret service employees. 

“The more different people you have in the room, in these high-pressure circumstances in which we operate, the better the decisions,” said Younger. “So success for me is a deeper, broader range of technological skills in MI6 and more diversity, in particular more women.”

Q’s true identity will likely always be kept secret, and for good reason. But knowing there’s a woman in the top seat might just encourage others to offer their technological smarts too.

@emilyrbakes

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Ben Whishaw as Q in Spectre (Photo: Rex Features)
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