Best remembered as 'M' in the James Bond films, Bernard Lee was a popular character player in British films throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Born into a theatrical family, he made his stage debut aged six and later attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He first appeared on the West End stage in London in 1928, and continued to work in the theatre during the 1930s, taking only occasional film roles. It was only after World War Two that he concentrated his efforts on the cinema, and was much in demand in British films of the 1950s as friendly authority figures, including army sergeants, police detectives or navy officers. Detectives became a particular specialty, and he played this role in more than a dozen films. He was effectively cast against type in only two films, as the union agitator in The Angry Silence (1960), and as a disgruntled civil servant who becomes a spy for the Russians in Ring of Spies (1963).