Bill Tanner
Name: William Tanner
Affiliation: MI6
Nationality: England English
Rank: Lieutenant-Colonel
Occupation: Chief of Staff of MI6
First appearance: Casino Royale
Last appearance: Trigger Mortis

Bill Tanner is MI6's Chief of Staff. Tanner is a regular literary character from Ian Fleming. He appears infrequently in the novels, but is a larger, more regular character in later continuation novels.


A man about Bond's age and height, Tanner earned distinguishment during his military career in the sappers during World War II. He later avoided the potential of a nervous breakdown based on his experiences in field service and settled down to an administration job. He became MI6's Chief of Staff reporting directly to M. He has an office adjoined to M’s right next to Miss Moneypenny.

Tanner has spent over a decade as M's number two and has signs of visual age due to the strenuous nature of the job. Superb in a crisis, and blessed with a dry sense of humour, Tanner is also Bond's staunchest ally in the Service, and they often enjoy lunching together or a round of golf when off-duty. A family man, Tanner is just a little envious of Bond's freedom. Tanner is charged with keeping the War Book, a detail of all important events so that in the death of both himself and M their successors have detailed accounts of all MI6 activity.


Bond tests his shooting abilities at a targeting range before his invitation from M to attend a card game with him at Blades against Hugo Drax. It is mentioned that the test scores will be passed to Tanner, and that only he and M have the privilege of knowing the accuracy scores of agents.

Dr. NoEdit

Tanner initially questions Bond's future field effectiveness after letting himself be poisoned by Rosa Klebb which almost killed him. Eventually he is proven wrong when Bond foils the scheme of Dr. Julius No to tamper with NATO ballistic missiles.


Tanner was heavily involved in MI6's response to the theft of two atomic weapons by SPECTRE over the Atlantic Ocean. His cool and calm handling of the crisis was much lauded, liaising with agents in the field and planning their strategies during "Operation Thunderball".

"The Living Daylights"Edit

After Bond is tasked to kill a KGB sniper codenamed "Trigger", Tanner briefs Bond on the mission further. Acknowledging that the assignment was effectively to murder the agent, Tanner shows some sympathy towards Bond and his task, in stark contrast to a rather morose M.

The Man with the Golden GunEdit

When Bond returns to London, brainwashed by the KGB, Tanner is very dubious of Bond's story and discourages M from seeing him. He offers to see Bond before M in case of a plot, though M refuses, and invites Bond to lunch which he likewise abstains. When Bond subsequently attempts to assassinate M in his office, Tanner had already called in the head of security to Miss Moneypenny's desk. The two throw themselves into the room and subdue Bond dragging him into Tanner's office.

M conveys his concern at 007's state of mind but is optimistic Bond can be "un-brainwashed" by Sir James Moloney. He asks Tanner to arrange for Moloney to see Bond and reinstate his pay. Then to pull the file on Francisco Scaramanga and organize his elimination to be Bond's next assignment to "test" his skills and abilities following Bond's mental recuperation.

Colonel SunEdit

Tanner enjoys a morning game of golf with Bond before Bond visits M at his home, Quarterdeck. After M is kidnapped, Tanner takes over as temporary head of MI6. He, Ronnie Valance and Bond investigate the crime scene and work out a plan to find M. Tanner sends Bond to Greece, where he is to rendezvous with head of station G, Stuart Thomas' agents and pursue Colonel Sun Liang-Tan.


  • In 1965, Colonel Sun author Kingsley Amis wrote the authorised spin-off The Book of Bond, or Every Man His Own 007, a tongue-in-cheek guide to being a spy. The book is not credited to Amis, but rather to Lt.-Col. William "Bill" Tanner.