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Sunday, 19 December, 1999, 21:53 GMT
Private tragedy of 007 eccentric

Desmond Llewelyn (right) briefs 007 Pierce Brosnan

As the crotchety quartermaster supplying Bond with a host of hi-tech gadgets - and a measure of humbling humbug - Desmond Llewelyn was a cult figure for millions of cinema-goers.

If it had not been for my wife and her family I would not have continued as an actor
Desmond Llewelyn
But away from the glamour of the big screen, the 85-year-old nursed the heartache of watching powerless as his wife of 61 years, Pamela, suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

Last month he told how Pamela, also 85, who lost her sight about four years ago, no longer recognised him. Her deterioration had shattered their sons Ivor, 50, and 45-year-old Justin.

Unable to cope with looking after her on his own, Llewelyn two years ago made the decision to move her in to a home just 10 minutes from where they lived in Bexhill, East Sussex.

He visited her every day but found the visits intensely painful.

But he credits her with saving him as an actor in the lean post-war years, when his career needed a boost. "If it had not been for my wife and her family I would not have continued as an actor," he said.

"Pamela's father was a businessman, and she had an income from him. There were times when we were pretty scuppered, and this helped us out a hell of a lot."

'Now pay attention Bond...'

Llewelyn, born in South Wales in 1914, played Q in 17 Bond films, including the latest film The World Is Not Enough. He first appeared in From Russia With Love in 1963, alongside Sean Connery as 007.

Sean Connery as James Bond
He described his interpretation of the character as "that of a toffee-nosed English", and went on to brief and berate four more 007s: George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan.

He did not appear in Dr No and was omitted from Live and Let Die in 1973 because producers wanted to play down the gadgets, but he returned by popular demand in The Man With The Golden Gun.

Llewelyn was famous for delivering lines like: "Pay attention Bond ... and please use this for its intended purpose, 007."

But despite his on-screen dexterity with gadgets, he was famously a bungler in real life.

"In real life, most gadgets expire or explode as I touch them," he said in October.

Prisoner of war

He entered the Royal Academy for the Dramatic Arts in the mid 1930s but his career was halted by the outbreak of World War II, when he served as a second lieutenant in the British Army.

Roger Moore was also supplied by Q
In early 1940 he was captured by the Germans in France and spent five years as a prisoner - once confined to solitary after his captors found him working in an escape tunnel dug by his fellow prisoners.

He made his film debut in the 1939 Will Hay comedy Ask A Policeman.

Llewelyn had a small uncredited role in the 1963 film Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and also appeared in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1968.

And just before his death Llewelyn completed work in a new film - called Error 2000 - where he finally gets to save the world himself.

It was his first non-Bond movie for more than 20 years.

He is survived by his wife and two sons.

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See also:
19 Dec 99 |  UK
Bond actor killed in head-on crash
30 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Bond's box office haul
25 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
Bond loses licence to thrill
19 Nov 99 |  Shaken Not Stirred
Four decades of Bondage
01 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Old Bonds voted best

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