James Bond. You know his name and you know his number. But what of his colleagues? What of the other 00 agents?
There is conflicting information on the number of 00s that MI6 employs both in the novels and the films. For the sake of this piece, I will be using both (as well as the old comic strip series and the one Brosnan-fronted video game) as a giant loose continuity. If that bothers you, well, too bad. Going by this, the listings go from 001-0013, though it seems unlikely that MI6 actually has thirteen 00s operating around the planet at any given point in time. Then again, the conference room sequence in Thunderball clearly shows that at least NINE are operating in Europe.
Let’s get down to the basics first though. How does one become a 00 agent? Again, things are a bit conflicting in the various source materials, but a general criterion does seem to exist. First off, you must have two kills to your name. Wartime situations and self-defense do not count. It basically means that you have successfully carried out two ordered assassinations. Agents also tend to be recruited from Britain’s armed forces, though it isn’t always the case. Those who live long enough to hit retirement age or become disabled usually become station chiefs in some foreign locale. For example, in the novel Colonel Sun, Stuart Thomas is head of Section G (Greece) and was a former 005. Back on the retirement front, Fleming’s Moonraker sets the mandatory retirement age for a 00 at 45. This is contradicted by later non-Fleming novels, but for the sake of this piece we’ll just assume that particular policy had changed by then. Moving on, let’s examine the known 00s…
001 – Edward Donne; brought into the fold in Raymond Benson’s Doubleshot.
002 – Bill Fairbanks. Bill first rears his head in Thunderball, only to be snuffed out assassin Francisco Scaramanga sometime before the events of The Man With The Golden Gun. A different 002 appears during the Gibraltar training sequence at the start of The Living Daylights. For the sake of the piece, let’s give him the same name as his actor: Glyn Baker.
003 – Jason Walters is on deck first. Jason also appears in Thunderball and unfortunately turns up dead at the start of A View To A Kill. A second 003, Jack Mason, is murdered by Willem Dafoe’s villain in the game Everything or Nothing.
004 – There are three of these, making this the unluckiest number of the lot. Frederick Wardner, Aidan Flemmings, and Scarlett Papava. Wardner first appears in Thunderball and apparently bites it in Germany at some point according to the novels. Flemmings falls to his death at the start of The Living Daylights after his climbing line is cut by an assassin. Papava seems to have been Wardner’s replacement (courtesy of Devil May Care), meaning she either left the service or was killed sometime before Aidan’s ascension to the rank.
005 – The aforementioned Stuart Thomas, who…you guessed it…appears in Thunderball.
And now we come to 006. You know, it really is amazing that it took 17 films before they finally decided to have a rogue 00 as a villain. Sean Bean’s heel was well worth the wait though. This is the really fun one when it comes to loosely combining the facts from the various Bond materials. Why combine them? Well, considering we are supposed to suspend disbelief and see James in Goldeneye as being at least slightly older than James in A View To A Kill…then why the hell not? As with the majority of the agents about, 006 is present during the conference in Thunderball. We also know for a fact that Alec Trevelyan is “killed” nine years before the majority of the events in Goldeneye. A different 006 is mentioned both in the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the spin-off Moneypenny Diaries books. This man’s name is Jack Giddings. By applying logic to this scenario, that places the events of Goldeneye’s opening sequence as taking place before You Only Live Twice. Why? Because YOLT was Bond’s first face-to-face with Ernst Stavro Blofeld and the start of his obsession with taking the man down. Giddings is Trevelyan’s replacement after his “death” at the hands of the Russians. This also means that the missions from YOLT through Goldeneye take place over a mere 9-year timespan. While not official fact or canon, it’s still fun to think about, no?
008 – The mysterious Bill Timothy. Both in the novels and films, Bond seems to hold a begrudging respect for 008. He is also the only man to hold this rank for the entire series. The fact that M constantly threatens to replace Bond with him shows just how good Timothy really is. Could he even be better than Bond himself? Hard to say, really. Outside of sitting in a chair in Thunderball, we’ve never seen the man in action. Given the high regard that both Bond and our original M (Sir Miles Messervy) hold Bill Timothy in, it appears he is at least Bond’s equal. At this point, I hope he continues to remain an enigma.
009 – Peter Smith. First appears in Thunderball and is killed in Octopussy. Dressed as a clown. What an embarrassing way to go. A different, unnamed 009 is mentioned in The World Is Not Enough, as well as a few of the graphic novels.
0010 – John Wolgramm from Raymond Benson’s The Man With The Red Tattoo is the only known agent for this slot.
0011 – Cederic is brought up as being MIA in Fleming’s Moonraker.
0012 – Sam Johnston. Do you recall Bond investigating the death of a colleague at the beginning of The World Is Not Enough? Well, while not mentioned in the film itself, it is detailed within the original script and novelization that said colleague was 0012.
0013 – Briony Thorne. This sucker is also from the comics and was ultimately revealed to be a traitor.
There are two other agents whose numbers were never revealed from the comic strips: York (that you, Cederic?) and Suzy Kew.
Now that I have filled your noggin with random useless information regarding the 00 section of MI6, let’s wrap things up. Craig’s Bond (who is a part of his own separate continuity) once said that “00s have a short life expectancy”. Just glancing at the above information, he’s 110% correct. While some have obviously lasted longer than others, it appears that most end up dying in some exotic foreign locale and generally not in the most pleasant way. While Q has prattled on film after film about how his gadgets have saved Bond’s life numerous times, it is very clear that it takes more than nifty toys and trinkets to have a long-lasting career as a 00 agent. What is that extra something? Talent? Ingenuity? Pure blind luck? I’m guessing it is a bit of all three. James Bond (007) and William Timothy (008) obviously have the stuff it takes to carve out a successful niche in their business.
How about the rest of you though? Do you think you could stand with the two giants of industry? Or would end up as another anonymous star on the memorial wall? Feel free to ponder this and everything else in the forums and the comments section below.