The Dr. No Technician Radiation Suit


It is currently a worrisome time in the world, and when we go outside we’re looking for protection. James Bond wears protective gear in Dr. No, but how protective is it?

Villain Dr Julius No provided white suits to his nuclear reactor technicians so they can be protected from radiation. The suit is visually interesting, but on closer examination it doesn’t appear to provide protection from much of anything. The film’s million-dollar budget likely did not have room for more sophisticated radiation suits.

After James Bond breaks out of his Crab Key prison cell, he knocks out a technician who is going off duty and undressing from his white suit, and he steals the suit. Bond takes the place of Chang, who may or may not be the man he knocked out.

The suit is made of white vinyl and looks like artificial leather with a grain. It is made of three pieces: a combination helmet and top, trousers and boots.

The top piece slips on over the head and covers the entire upper body, from the head to the hands to the waist. The helmet is cylindrical with a flat top and is sewn to the body. It has a rectangular clear plastic window to see through and a round blue mesh opening below the window that we’re to believe connects to a breathing apparatus.

The body is full-cut and blouses over an elasticised hem. The long sleeves, gathered at the wrist, end in mittens. Mittens don’t give the technicians much dexterity, but they provide more than Dr No’s metal hands do. Bond is able to save himself from the boiling reactor pool in these mittens while Dr No’s metal hands prevent him from gripping onto anything to save himself.

The trousers have a full cut and either an elasticised or a drawstring waist. The loose fit of the top and trousers allow this outfit to fit a variety of body shapes and sizes.

The top and bottom do not connect, and having two separate pieces do not provide the same protection that a jumpsuit would. During Bond’s fight with Dr No, a gap of skin is revealed between the top and the trousers, exposing him to harmful radiation.

The trouser legs tuck into white boots. The boots resemble short cowboy boots, with a white sole and heel. Rounded toes curl up.

Bond wears the radiation suit over the trousers, crew-neck undershirt and blue canvas espadrilles that he wears with his brown silk nehru jacket. He takes off the top and boots when he exits the reactor control room, wearing the undershirt and espadrilles. When on a boat escaping an explosive Crab Key, he’s again wearing the stone cotton trousers, back in the outfit he was wearing before donning the radiation suit.


  1. I know EU standards would be more appropriate than US standards, but I don’t know them. These are most equivalent to Type-B suits without a SCBA (since the breathing apparatus draws in ambient air and presumably purifies it), which would lower them further to Type-C protection. It’s basically a fume hood, which is probably okay to use as long as they’re being exposed to free isotopes, rather than to ionizing radiation itself.

    Of course, it would be better to just not let all that iodine-131 build up inside your control room, but when your reactor is supposed to be secret and unregistered it’s probably more difficult to dispose of it properly.

  2. In the same vein as ‘how come electric toasters always have a setting that will burn your bread to a cinder?’ – how come brilliant scientist Dr. No builds a reactor with a setting that will cause it to melt down at the turn of a knob?

    • The Soviets did something similar with the RBMK 1000 reactor; if too many control rods were withdrawn from the core, pressing the shutdown button, (which reinserts all of the control rods simultaneously), could cause a massive power surge.
      This is what happened in Chernobyl reactor 4.

      • Dr.Tredstone,
        I’m curious do you ever go to the Bond events? Im hoping there are some on the west coast in the near future. But I’m almost certain some of the Bond events take place around New York.

      • I don’t, no. I do poke into T&A about once a month… I usually keep my eyes open to see if I’ll spot Matt or some other Bond-related person like Pete Brooker filming something new, but it hasn’t happened yet.

        I might have a higher chance of running into Sean Connery, who I think does physiotherapy one avenue over on 57th, or Daniel Craig, who has been in the NY store a few times. lol!

  3. Why not a post on the space suits in James Bond movies?

    You only Live Twice
    Diamon are Forever
    For the first two movies the reconstruction of Gemini type,Mercury type an Apollo space suits are remarkables for the time.

      • The space suits in Moonraker are interesting,Are a quote from 2001 a Space odissey (both silver and orange).
        In You only Live twice the American Gemini space suits are fictonal, the Russian space suits are the very good American Mercury suits replica,and the Spectre Space Suits are a good replica of the real Gemini Space suits… a little mess It is not so?
        In Diamond are Forever we have a very good replica of Apollo A7L suits.

  4. I’m reminded of some of the low-budget “space suits” from classic Trek episodes, which look like little more than fancy bubble paper, which is, of course, part of its inimitable charm.

  5. As part of a UK military Special Safety Team (for accidents involving nuclear weapons in transit) in the 70s and 80s, I wore a white nylon one piece suit with a hood. It was worn with our standard respirator, thick rubber gloves with cotton liners, and rubber Wellington boots. The idea was not to protect against radiation, but to protect against particulate contamination, which is what the closely woven fabric did. The suit would be removed as the first part of decontamination, followed by scrubbing, showers and monitoring much as seen in Dr No (only colder!). The one piece suits in Dr No were actually not completely unrealistic. Indeed firefighters hazmat suits today are not dissimilar.

  6. Excellent point that reminded me of a series of pictures with actual “radiation suits” that are two pieces. The trousers seem to have some kind of suspenders. The pictures were taken after a nuclear reactor accident in 1969:

  7. I think these may be some kind of actual protective wear, not ‘radiation suits’ but probably some kind of airport firefighter or surgical suit of the era; notice the other hazmat suits in No’s base, they are in different colours but slightly different designs; if they were made by the wardrobe team, they’d all look the same in design surely?

    Dr No’s own hazmat suit probably was also a ‘real’ protective suit too, but its hard to know given the lack of information; I’d assume so as shopping for real (and more affordable) hazard gear would be easier than making it all from scratch.


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