The Franchise Never Dies


Anyone know if it’s the James Bond 50th Anniversary ? They really should let us know if it is or not. As usual, the Albert R “Cubby” Broccoli organisation are keeping their Walther PPKs close to their chests. The BBC have hardly mentioned a thing on their website – a mere four features a day of various hoary old Bond yarns.

On a recent wander past the magazine racks in Sainsburys, I saw Daniel Craig or a Bond Girl on no more than 78 different mag and newspaper covers.  From GQ, Vanity Fair and LIFE down to Woman and Home (which includes a knitting patter for an Aston Martin DB5), Wisden (“James Bond’s 50 Best LBWs”), The Daily Express: “Was Jimmy Savile the real Goldfinger ?and You Magazine‘s fascinating quiz “Best 50 Up the Skirt Shots of Bond Girls”.

It only serves as a reminder to me that once upon a time, every four years or so, I and everyone else in the press were charged with coming up with or working on terribly interesting and ,of course, highly original huge feature spreads on Ian Fleming‘s Character. For many of us, this meant dealing with the charmless EON Productions who make it their business to drip feed each ‘news’ organisation titbits and archive material for an 8-page “feature/advert relating the new movie – including rare shots of Shirley Eaton painted from head to toe in gold (there are only 93 different shots known to be in existence).

All this material is handed over under the strict understanding that you are doing them a favour. We slam the phone down, we say rude words and kick the desk, knowing that your rival publication has got that shot of Roger Moore that you really needed to finish your montage of “50 Best Bond Casual Attires” (Horse& Groom). But because Bond is sexy, alluring, ever-changing and the one of two British blokes on the planet with a sense of style (modesty forbids me to name the other), every few years we put that to the back of our mind and call Eon again to ask if they have a handy list of Bond Villains (they’d never thought of compiling one – honest). And “wasn’t it terrible that Adele’s song ‘leaked’ online ?”  Incredible.

And every few years the public swallow all this and lap it up. Our (or rather your) appetite for 007 has no end, apparently. I read with no interest at all that Friday 5 October 2012 has been declared ‘Global James Bond Day’ By who(m) ? Have a guess. There’ll be a “row” on TV about the name of the latest movie; endless phone-ins about who is the “Best Bond” are broadcast on radio (I once called up and suggested John Bond, who used to play for West Ham – I didn’t get on air), Ursula Andress’s swimsuit will be auctioned off again at Sotheby’s, and the BBC (again) will send Alan Yentob to do a documentary on Ian Fleming “The real James Bond“. Someone will write a “new” Bond book in the style of the originals. A debate on a late Arts show will show that David Niven and George Lazenby (who the producers worried was gay, d’you know ?) were bloody good actors and Sean Connery will be asked what he thinks of Daniel Craig, while we uncomfortably watch how old he’s suddenly become and realise that we really do Only Live Once.

So don’t worry if you missed this piece, I shall be re-publishing it in three years time, in time for the new movie “A View to an Overkill”. You won’t, of course, realise it’s the same piece as there will be new and exclusive pictures of Halle Berry and a rare interview with Gert Frobe where he told us that he couldn’t play cards after all ! It’ll be a thrill. Honest.

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John Barry RIP


I found myself  searching for some music to get myself up and ready for the day ahead, and at the same time commemorate the passing of the great John Barry. I could have chosen the theme from The Persuaders but it didn’t feel quite right. Neither did Dances with Wolves – not really the right mood for a damp morning in Dartford. Perhaps Midnight Cowboy would be more my style ? – there’s certainly a touch of the Ratso Rizzo’s about me this morning. Obviously I’m no Sheen Connolly, so the 007 Theme‘s right out.

So I plumped for the music to the first Harry Palmer movie, The Ipcress File. As a kid I always hoped if I really did have to be a British Secret Service agent, I’d become one like Harry P. and not Mr Bond. He seemed altogether cooler and more straightforward. He made his own breakfast and wore lounge suits not dinner jackets. (I’ve seen me in a dinner jacket – I look like a bloke with a head transplant.) And hopefully I could work with the great Nigel Green and not the truly dreadful Desmond Llewelyn.

Anyway, while I was doing all that I would be humming this theme to myself in preparation for a good day’s spying, a jolly good cup of tea with Nigel, and a quick knee-trembler with Sue Lloyd before she rushed off to star in Crossroads.

And all the while I’d have Mr Barry’s music to whisk me along and keep me out of mischief.

Do pay attention, Palmer !