Bill Tanner is MI6's Chief of Staff. Tanner is a regular literary character from Fleming and Gardner's novels, as well as Amis' Colonel Sun, but has never been considered a regular cinematic character until 2008's Quantum of Solace. His largest role in the film series was in 1981's For Your Eyes Only in which, after the death of Bernard Lee (M), Tanner was given a bigger role to substitute while M was "on leave." To date he has been portrayed on-screen by Michael Goodliffe, James Villiers, Michael Kitchen and Rory Kinnear.
Michael Goodliffe briefly plays the character in the 1974 James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. He was uncredited for the role.
Bill Tanner is only seen briefly in the film and is not mentioned by name until the end credits. He appears in M's office with M and Colthorpe, discussing Francisco Scaramanga, who has sent a bullet to MI6 printed with Bond's ID number. He explains Scaramanga's fingerprints on the bullet were verified by the CIA, and that Scaramanga is attempting to provoke a battle with MI6. This leads to Bond being sent to find Scaramanga.
He appears in the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only portrayed by James Villiers.
Tanner gives Bond his assignment (along with Sir Fredrick Gray), which sends him to find Hector Gonzales. Bond is unable to get information from Gonzales later on because Melina Havelock kills him after Bond is captured. Tanner then gets upset at him for not getting any information and letting Melina murder him. Tanner is last seen at the end of the film, when he connects the Prime Minister and Bond by phone. Unknowingly though, Bond is not there and it is merely a talking parrot that ends up "flirting" with the Prime Minister.
He appears in the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye and 1999's The World Is Not Enough portrayed by Michael Kitchen.
Tanner is only briefly seen in the Situation Room when the GoldenEye weapon is set off over Severnaya. Tanner gets scolded here for calling the new M, "the Evil Queen of Numbers" while she is right behind him. He then gives her and James Bond a briefing of the GoldenEye weapon and the specifications of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) technology.
The World Is Not Enough
Tanner is seen at the castle in Scotland at an MI6 debriefing the agents on the murder of Sir Robert King, father of Elektra King. When Bond comes to the conclusion that Renard is behind it, Tanner is seen with them talking about what Renard can do or is planning to do. He is only seen again twice, when Elektra King contacts M to get her to come and see her and finally at the end of the film where R is attempting to find Bond using a camera in Istanbul.
The character was portrayed from 2008 to present by Rory Kinnear and appears in the James Bond films Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015). Kinnear also voices Tanner and provides his likeness for the 2010 remake of the GoldenEye 007 game, the original game Blood Stone (2010) and 007 Legends (2012).
Quantum of Solace
Tanner is seen informing M about bond's actions while tracking down Slate.
He is seen in the beginning of the movie, tracking Bond's movements in Turkey, telling M that 007 is on the Grand Bazaar, chasing Patrice.
Bill Tanner is first seen taking Bond by boat on the river Thames to MI6. Tanner then helps with the assault on the nine eyes program.
James Bond and James Bond Incarnations