Bernard Lee played the role of M in 11 Bond films. From DR. NO. (1962) to MOONRAKER (1979), he has been the longest serving actor in the part.
M serves as the head of the British Secret Service, sending Bond on missions from his wood-panelled office. Ian Fleming created a stern, almost parental relationship between M and 007. M recognises Bond’s unique skills and innate talent but barely tolerates his often-unorthodox methods and hedonistic lifestyle. Bernard Lee’s M comes very close to Fleming’s version of the character.
Due to illness, Lee was unable to complete filming on FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (1981), meaning he had to bow out of playing M. Producer Cubby Broccoli refused to recast the part in the film out of respect for Lee’s great contribution to the series. Broccoli on Lee; “He was a great personal friend, liked by all of us. His quiet authority and totally convincing manner were absolutely flawless.”