The Double 0 agents are the fictitious invention of Ian Fleming for his series of James Bond novels. They are the covert British secret agents who are licensed to kill, and live an extravagant lifestyle on their high danger pay. To earn double 0 status an agent has to complete two kills during his missions. The filmatic James Bond acheived his when he killed the Prague Section Chief in Casino Royale after killing the informant who disclosed the chief's betrayal of his country. In the novels Fleming tells us there are only three at any time, but the films make the assumption that there are nine: 001 to 009.
The most famous of the Double 0s is of course 007, Commander James Bond, a Cambridge graduate1 with a Double First in Languages. 007 has never been killed in the line of duty2, but in a kill or be killed world, whatever happened to the other Double 0 agents?
Brothers in Arms
001 - If we follow the premise from the films, 001 is conspicuous by his absence in the first 21 films and all the novels. If he does exist who is he, M or Q perhaps? As Q is still on occasion a field operative maybe, just maybe, we have our man; his inventive skills may have saved him from the fate of the other double 0s but that is purely speculation. We will probably never know.
002 - In The Man With the Golden Gun, 002 is Bill Fairbanks, assassinated by a bullet through the neck from Scaramanga in Beirut. Later, another 002 parachutes onto Gibraltar at the start of The Living Daylights, and is captured as soon as he lands.
003 - At the start of A View to a Kill Bond is in the ice fields of Siberia. He discovers a body in the snow, and takes a micro chip from inside a pendant around the frozen and very dead 003 who had failed to complete his mission.
004 - In the opening of The Living Daylights, three agents parachute onto Gibraltar for a training exercise. 004 uses a grappling hook to climb a rock face, but rebel agent 002 sends a message down before cutting the rope and watching 004 fall to his death. In the book The Facts of Death, following the murder of M's lover Bill Tanner, M's chief of staff is about to call in 004, but M prefers Bond as he'd be more understanding.
005 - Never appeared in the films yet made two appearances in books. In Colonel Sun he is Stuart Thomas, head of G section, who had served as 005 until an eye defect forced him into retirement. He ran a bookshop as a cover, this was burnt down by the opposition, and 005 disappeared. M later says he is presumed dead. However in The Facts of Death a scaled down G section is being run by Stuart Thomas. Like Mark Twain said, 'reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated'.
006 - In the opening sequence of Goldeneye, 006 Alec Trevelyan, played by Sean Bean, meets Bond in a chemical weapons facility on a mission. He is believed to be shot in the head in the following mêlée from which Bond escapes. Nine years later it is revealed that 006 actually defected and is the mastermind behind the theft of Goldeneye. He falls from the antenna of a satellite dish in Cuba but dies only after the antenna falls on him following the explosive destruction of the control centre. Previously in the book On Her Majesty's Secret Service, when Mary Goodnight became the double 0 section secretary, there is a bet in the section as to who will seduce her first. The joint favourites are 007 and 006, an ex-Royal Marine Commando.
008 - In the film Goldfinger, M is unhappy with the way Bond is doing things and suggests replacing him with the more conservative 008. Later in the movie Bond tells Auric Goldfinger that if he fails to report, it is likely 008 will replace him to complete the mission. Goldfinger is not impressed and responds, 'I trust he will be more successful'. 008 is also almost recalled from Hong Kong to relieve 007 in The Living Daylights as he is more inclined to follow orders than Bond. The book for Goldfinger has a similar scenario to the film only Bond is not merely failing to report but facing certain death. The novel for Moonraker however has 008, here called Bill, resting in Berlin following a mission. Bond says he must be badly injured then.
009 - The opening of Octopussy sees 009, dressed as a clown, steal a Fabergé egg3 from East Berlin. He is killed in the flight to the west, but the egg gets into British hands. Bond later avenges his death, also dressed as a clown, in the circus scene climax. The World is not Enough sees 009 dispatched to eliminate Renard. He puts a bullet in Renard's head, but it fails to kill the target. When Bond is sent to a health clinic in the novel of Thunderball, M places 009 in charge of the double 0 section.
0011 - A 0011 appears, or rather disappears, in the novel Moonraker whilst on assignment in Singapore. He has been missing for two months when Bond is called in to HQ.