A long-standing poor public image of nuclear power is being partly blamed on the James Bond film Dr No.

The Royal Society of Chemistry says that the film – featuring a villain with his own nuclear reactor – presented a view that atomic energy was a “barely controllable force of nature”.

The society’s president David Phillips wants to see a “renaissance” in nuclear power, and key to this is public perception, which he says has become “remorselessly grim” in the 50 years since the film’s release.

But the claim has been rubbished by Tom Burke, visiting professor at Imperial College London and special advisor to the government on climate change.

“The idea that somehow it is Hollywood that has made people sceptical about nuclear power is a bit like thinking that it’s gangster movies that are responsible for crime waves,” he said.