James Bond Fan Club Newsletter

Royale: 007 is well and truly back!

No more 'speculation'. Our wait for SPECTRE is very nearly over!
You know the name. You know the number. And you know the release date: October 26th. After eight long months of principal shooting both in Britain and across the globe, not counting the extra months of additional hard work on pre-production and post-production, the 24th James Bond adventure will receive its Royal World Premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in central London this Monday evening.
All the main members of the cast are expected to be there, including 007 star Daniel Craig, together with the director Sam Mendes and the two EON producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. An incredible amount of energy and creativity has gone into the new James Bond film, and an impressive large-scale marketing campaign has increasingly raised the excitement and anticipation over the last few weeks.
The standard was set very high by the award-winning Skyfall, arguably the most successful Bond movie ever, and so all members of the team working on SPECTRE were determined to maintain this 'golden touch' and, if possible, take things even higher. The JBIFC are very confident that Craig and his Bond crew have more than succeeded in this mission.
From a View to a Thrill

In what was something of a surprise, but very welcome, move for the James Bond franchise, SPECTRE will also hit the ground running (so to speak) and go on general release in cinemas in the UK and Ireland on the very same evening as the World Premiere.
It will then be rolled out in markets across the world, accompanied by a sophisticated publicity drive. Indeed, as many Bond fans are more than aware, the latter campaign push has already started, with a variety of short TV spots being shown across a wide number of markets, a large number of tie-in interviews with the key stars appearing in magazines and newspapers, a well-conceived and colourful poster campaign and, of course, a huge internet operation. In a special tribute to all the fantastic help they received from local people in Mexico City, SPECTRE will have its 'Premiere of the Americas' in Mexico City on Monday, November 2nd.
It will then be rolled out in North America and South America on November 6th. Four days prior to the Royal Premiere (on Thursday, October 22nd), Daniel Craig was joined by his female co-stars Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux at a special press event held at the Corinthia Hotel in London, and they all looked very relaxed and very happy. And they had every reason to be: the first advance reviews had just been published that same day and they were overwhelmingly enthusiastic!

Golden High: First SPECTRE reviews hugely positive
The special UK press screening for SPECTRE took place on Wednesday, 21st October, and quickly led to a mini-avalanche of advance reviews in the British press and on TV channels. The vast majority all agreed on one central thing: that this is one of the best 007 films in the series, and clearly takes the franchise to a new and golden high. So, what did our hard-nosed journalists have to say in response to their exclusive advance screening? The BBC, that bastion of Britishness, was one of the first TV channels to offer a detailed verdict. Speaking on the BBC's 'Breakfast' early morning TV programme on October 22nd, for example, the film critic Jason Solomons said SPECTRE has all the things you would want in a James Bond movie, and more! In his estimation, the movie ticks off a checklist of 'Bondian' features; moreover, it delves into Bond's psychology more than ever before. Turning to Bond's newspaper of choice, The Times (October 22nd), the newspaper offered a review from film critic Kate Muir, entitled 'Cool, sleek, powerful: it's Bond at his best'. And this was the tone struck by many of the other newspapers: The Guardian (October 22nd) said the movie is 'terrifically exciting', while the Daily Telegraph (October 22nd) summed up its enthusiasm in the very title of its review: 'Journey through the ghosts of Bond's past is pure cinematic delight'. The more populist British middle-market newspapers, who can sometimes be very difficult to please, also strongly echoed the high praise. The UK's Daily Mail (October 22nd), for example, proclaimed in a headline at the top of its front page: 'Brilliant Bond is back!', and Brian Viner's review inside the paper said it is 'a spectacular joyride of a movie'. The Mail's main rival, the Daily Express (October 22nd) entitled its review with 'It's Bond at his spectacular best'. The reviewer, Allan Hunter, noted that Skyfall was the most successful 007 film ever made and asked: 'How do you follow a triumph like that? Director Sam Mendes and the Bond team rise to the challenge in spectacular fashion with Spectre. The latest Bond extravaganza is thrill ride from the first chase to the last bullet'. High praise indeed! 

Bond, James Bond: Craig's four-film odyssey
Naturally, there has been tremendous media and other interest in Daniel Craig since filming on SPECTRE began and, especially for Bond fans, in the extent to which he has pushed his interpretation of James Bond in new and exciting directions, helped by the very close creative 'bond' he has developed with Sam Mendes, both on Skyfall and now on SPECTRE. In many ways, SPECTRE puts forward a kind of story-arc that draws on all of Craig's previous Bond films. We suspect that was not really the original intention when Craig first took over as James Bond for Casino Royale or, moreover, when early pre-production ideas for the latest Bond film were first put forward. However, it is something that seems to have developed incrementally as the SPECTRE storyline evolved and it went through various drafts, and it nicely ties up some loose ends. Sam Mendes has announced that he has now completed his own particular 'two-part' story and his involvement with the Bond franchise, and wants to move on to other projects and new challenges. This must be giving Daniel Craig cause for reflection, too. From his perspective, the possibility of doing a fifth 007 movie under a new director must be something quite difficult to think about. We sometimes underestimate how draining and exhausting the role of 007 can be, especially when it seems like the whole world is watching your every move. Craig has given a large number of interviews, including in the days just after the main filming on SPECTRE had ended, and some more recently. We could quote endlessly from some of these, but one or two interviews in particular created something of a flurry, when a clearly very tired but elated Daniel tried to convey how relieved he was that the filming and very long hours on SPECTRE had finally come to a close.

Time up or just time out?
In an interview for the famous London Listings magazine Time Out, for example, given in early July (and finally published in their October 20th-26th edition), Craig had finished filming on the movie just four days earlier and offered some characteristically honest and blunt views, fuelled by an espresso coffee or two. He said at one point: 'Every idea I've had for a Bond movie I've stuck into this one. It's gone in. The Bond bank is dry. If you're asking me what I would do with another Bond movie? I haven't a clue'. When asked at another point whether he could imagine doing another Bond movie, Craig responded: 'Now? I'd rather break this glass and slash my wrists. No, not at the moment. Not at all. That's fine. I'm over it at the moment. We're done. All I want to do is move on'. When asked whether this meant he wanted to move on from Bond for good, Craig replied: 'I haven't given it any thought. For at least a year or two, I just don't want to think about it. I don't know what the next step is. I've no idea'. Daniel also offered similar comments in at least one other interview. Some journalists in the media immediately jumped on these comments and saw a chance to create some dramatic headlines, subjecting them to misinterpretation, and assuming that Craig was announcing his time as Bond was now definitely over! He wasn't. His attitude is more complex. Moreover, we should remember that the producers remain determined to hold on to him. On the question of how long Daniel Craig will continue as 007, its worth recalling that Michael G. Wilson said some time ago in an IGN interview: 'We want him for as long as he'll have us', while his co-producer Barbara Broccoli revealed: 'He's got an open-ended contract'.
His bond with Bond: Craig speaks at eve-of-premiere press call
Things perhaps became a little clearer during the special SPECTRE press call held at the Corinthia Hotel, mentioned earlier, where Craig at one point offered his views on his 'bond' with Bond. The press event saw a nicely relaxed and very happy-looking Daniel pose for photographs with Monica Bellucci, Lea Seydoux, Naomie Harris, and Christoph Waltz, together with director Sam Mendes. During the course of the photocall, the 007 star was asked about the comments he had made not long after completion of filming on the movie, comments which had led some journalists to conclude that he had finally finished with the role.
Craig explained to one journalist that he had said things like that because he had just finished shooting after long eight months: 'I said what was on my mind. That's the way I've always spoken'. He also revealed to the same journalist that it was actually up to him whether he returned as 007: 'There is no contract. It is up to me'. At another point, when faced with the question of whether he would return as Bond for one last time, Craig responded jokingly: 'Do I have any choice?' He then added: 'I love making these films. Skyfall was a huge success but you want to move on and make a bigger and better version. We've spent a huge amount of time making sure this story is as strong and real as possible'.
Live and Let Why: Mendes on Bond and Fleming
Sam Mendes has also given a range of interviews over the past few months, and - in the process - has offered some very interesting insights into his creative approach to interpreting the character of James Bond, including which parts of Ian Fleming's writings have helped him in this task. He also reflected at times about which of the previous Bond films have given him some inspiration. We could quote lots of different points from these interviews, but those that appeared in two magazines in particular stood out for us, as they gave some intriguing clues on which Bond films Mendes admired, and also indications of just how deeply Mendes has delved into 007's psychological make-up in order to underpin both his previous and latest Bond films. One piece was a straightforward interview, given to the British SFX magazine (no. 267, for December, 2015), which hit the news-stands in the UK in October; the other was a series of comments he gave that formed part of a compilation of comments that appeared in the British GQ magazine (for November, 2015). In SFX Mendes was asked about the now familiar fact that his own personal favourite Bond movie is Live and Let Die. He confirmed that one of the elements of SPECTRE - the pre-title sequence, with Bond wearing a skeletal mask - did indeed owe something to Roger Moore's first Bond movie. He said: 'You see the skullface and you're like, "Oh, it's Baron Samedi!" It's actually quite different, but of course there are echoes there. But part of the joy of Bond is a riffing on the iconography of it, and teasing you with things...'. In British GQ magazine, the influence of Fleming on Mendes emerged in some of his comments. At point, for example, he reflected: 'There's a short story that Ian Fleming wrote called The Hildebrand Rarity, which I thought about when I was making the two films'. According to Mendes, the story brought out the 'darkness' in Bond that had perhaps been lost in the screen interpretation at times. 

From Mendes With Love: Bond director guest-edits Empire
A superb new issue of the popular British movie magazine Empire (November, 2015) appeared in early October, and what a treat it proved to be! It was something of a 'must-have' purchase - a SPECTRE special edition, with no less than 39 pages devoted to 007 and his world. Moreover, it was also guest-edited by director Sam Mendes. Bond magazine collectors must have thought they had died and gone to 00-heaven! Published with a striking cover image of Daniel Craig and Christoph Waltz posing against a Bond gunbarrel design, the glossy new issue of Empire began with a special 'Editor's Letter' introductory page from Mendes, who commented that, for those of us who believe - as he does - that 'James Bond is one of the greatest of all contemporary mythologies', the magazine was offering plenty to get excited about ahead of the official release of the movie on October 26th. The magazine commenced its coverage with a report from Mexico, where the action-packed pre-credits sequence was shot earlier this year against the backdrop of the famous 'Day of the Dead' festival. At one point, Daniel Craig commented that: 'By having Sam back we've created a language that's one foot in the past but hopefully very modern as well...'.
Waltzing with Waltz: Christoph Waltz profiled
You have got to admire his dogged determination: ever since the original SPECTRE press launch at Pinewood Studios in 2014, Christoph Waltz has been adamant he would not give anything away whatsoever about his role in Bond 24 - not one iota of information has passed his lips. He was clearly sworn to secrecy by the Bond production team. Indeed, so much so that we suspect not even Auric Goldfinger's industrial laser could make Waltz crack! In fact, the director and producers must be really pleased about Waltz's admirable and strict self-discipline. The main villain of SPECTRE (Franz Oberhauser) is, of course, played by the acclaimed Austrian actor, and there has inevitably been much speculation in recent months over the precise nature and background of his character in the film. As we noted in our previous JBIFC newsletter, the British GQ magazine obtained a nice coup when they were able to interview Mr. Waltz at length for their May, 2015, issue (with the 58-year old actor also featuring prominently on the front cover). Conducted at the Corinthia Hotel in London, when Waltz was taking a break from filming SPECTRE, and entitled 'We've been expecting you, Mr. Waltz', the 10-page profile provided a run-down on his general acting career and an opportunity to give Waltz a chance to explain his approach to cinema acting. GQ also tried to delicately tease out some brief details on the topic of his Bond role, something quite brave to do with the notoriously cautious Waltz, who has tended to dance around any such questions and skilfully bounce them back; he has certainly been quite challenging to pin down. But we can safely say that Waltz was not giving anything away about Oberhauser, and remained as tight-lipped as ever!
Try Another Way
True to form, while the special SPECTRE edition of Empire, guest-edited by Mendes, also offered some coverage of Waltz, the magazine only managed, as with GQ previously, to tease very little out of him about the mysterious Franz Oberhauser. However, in Empire's interview with Waltz, under the title 'The Phantom Menace', the ultra-cautious Austrian did comment that 'You're asked to do more than play a part when you're asked to play in Bond', and it was abundantly clear to Empire that cinema audiences are in for an absolute treat later this month. As Daniel Craig also commented to Empire on Waltz: 'He's got something brilliantly dark inside him, when he turns it on'. Although, as per usual, he would not give way on any Oberhauser details, Waltz did give some brief assessments of the past James Bond actors, together with his views on the EON family business. Once SPECTRE is out, we wonder whether Waltz will be more prepared to discuss Mr. Oberhauser and any particular qualities to the character that he wanted to come across on screen? Perhaps... then again, perhaps not! Intriguingly, those thirsty for some clues about Oberhauser were given an indirect helping hand by none other than Lea Seydoux back in July. Lea, who plays Dr. Madeleine Swann (and has also acted with Waltz before, in the wartime tale Inglorious Basterds), gave an interview to USA Today and said of Oberhauser: 'He's mean. But he has a human side. I don't know if I can say touching, but you can have a real attachment to him. You have empathy (for him), and that's why he's going to be great in this role'.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Arguably one of the most visually-striking pieces of publicity for Mr. Waltz and his SPECTRE character Franz Oberhauser came with an interview the actor gave to the British newspaper The Guardian, which appeared in their glossy 'Weekend' magazine on October 10th. The magazine's front cover, headlined 'Be afraid. Be very afraid', showed a pensive but dangerous-looking Waltz, sitting in mysterious dark shadow in a chair and looking directly into the camera lens, holding the reader's gaze. A very similar shot appeared inside the magazine, but from a side angle, with Waltz looking even more villainous and stony-faced. He was clearly having tremendous fun playing up to the camera, and we loved it. What a powerful image! The newspaper proclaimed that 'Christoph Waltz is the baddest Bond villain yet', and was clearly having much fun as Waltz himself was with the Sp.e.c.t.r.e. angle and all the associated speculation. The interview, conducted by Xan Brooks, found Mr. Waltz to be an 'erudite and charming' personality, but with firm views on what he likes and dislikes (especially when it came to the choice of wine!). The article provided some detailed exploration of Waltz's long career, noting how things really began to take off for him in 2008 when he took the role of SS colonel Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds. Unsurprisingly, Waltz was not prepared to give anything away about his Bond villain role, but the interviewer, after seeing some advance footage of the new 007 movie, seemed to sum his role up for him: he was like a 'sadistic dentist'!
Double-O Heaven: More film mags cover SPECTRE
One of the great pleasures of witnessing the production of the new 007 adventure was seeing which of the popular British film magazines would be the first with detailed Bond coverage designed to wet our appetites. The ball quickly got rolling. First came Total Film (April, 2015, issue), which carried two pages on SPECTRE, including early photos from the snowbound Austrian scenes. Similarly, Empire (April, 2015, issue) gave us a 14-page profile (no less) of SPECTRE and other aspects of the James Bond universe, plus an excellent Daniel Craig cover-page. The magazine had been allowed special access to the set at Pinewood Studios, and included interviews with the Bond producers and also with Bond's new leading women, French beauty Lea Seydoux and gorgeous Italian star Monica Bellucci. Since then, we have seen a mini-avalanche of magazines with SPECTRE coverage, much to the delight of dedicated Bond magazine collectors, but gobbling up their pennies at an incredible rate! These mags have included Cosmopolitan (profile of Naomie Harris, September 31st), the Mail On Sunday's 'Event' magazine (special collector's edition, September 27th), the Sunday Times 'Culture' magazine (Craig interview, October 4th), Sunday Times 'Style' magazine (Naomie Harris, October 11th), Esquire (Craig profile, October, 2015), Starburst (October, 2015),Total Film (October, 2015), Total Film (November, 2015), Empire (bespoke collector's edition, November, 2015) (discussed earlier in this newsletter), SFX (November, 2015), TV and Satellite Week (on Craig, October 17th), Mail on Sunday 'You' magazine (Lea Seydoux interview, October 18th), Time Out (Craig interview, October 20th), Radio Times (exclusive on Naomie Harris, October 24th), British GQ magazine (November, 2015)... and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Phew!
Golden Touch: Trigger Mortis receives high praise 

So, what else has been happening in the Bond universe recently? Plenty! The world of the book version of Bond has seen another great success. In fact, for Anthony Horowitz, the latest author to take up the challenge of writing a James Bond novel, it has evidently been a case of 'Mission Accomplished'. His Bond novel Trigger Mortis became an immediate best-seller, and was also very well received by both the critics and the fans, many commenting that here was an author who had been able to really capture the style and excitement of Ian Fleming, compared to previous attempts by other authors. Critics in the UK were especially positive about the new book. Nicholas Lezard, for example, writing in the London Evening Standard ('Reborn Bond is back at his best', September 3rd) wrote that it was a 'hugely enjoyable story, which has everything in it we want from Bond, and more'. On the eve of the publication of the new novel, Horowitz spoke to The Times (October 5th) about his lifelong passion for Bond, and explained how this had helped him write his new 007 adventure. He said: 'I loved writing Trigger Mortis. Part of the pleasure was rereading the original novels and working out all the tricks and the techniques that make them so great'. It is more than clear than all this hard work has really paid off handsomely! Indeed, it has been an incredibly busy year for the workaholic author, with old projects dropped and brand new ones taken on. He announced in January, for example, that - after 13 highly successful years - his popular TV detective series Foyle's War had now definitely come to an end. The series, which starred Michael Kitchen (chief-of-staff Bill Tanner in two of Pierce Brosnan's Bond movies), saw the very final episode air on the UK's ITV channel earlier this year, on Sunday, January 8. Sunday nights have never been the same again! The series regularly drew in very large TV audiences. On the other hand, in addition to bringing his new Bond book to fruition, Horowitz took a bold move into writing for the stage. His new play Dinner With Saddam was premiered at the Menier Chocolate Factory, in London, in September, with none other than Steven Berkoff in the key role of the late Iraqi dictator. Berkoff, of course, as many fans know, played the excellent role of ruthless renegade General Orlov in Octopussy (1983). Uniquely, Horowitz, who has written an amazing 42 books, including two exciting Sherlock Holmes novels, was able to use some original unused Ian Fleming material short-story material for part of his new 007 novel, which is set in the 1950s. And he has woven this into the novel extremely successfully, in our humble opinion.
From Moneypenny With Love
As mentioned earlier, there has been a lot of magazine interest in Miss Eve Moneypenny, played by Naomie Harris.
Naomie's career is a great inspiration to others: she got herself from a single-parent home to studying at Cambridge University, where she studied social and political sciences at Pembroke College. After Cambridge she trained at the Bristol Old Vic, and just nine months after her graduation Danny Boyle cast her in the film 28 Days Later, which was her breakthrough hit. In an interview for the Sunday Times 'Style' magazine (October 11th), it was claimed that Naomie is now known in the film industry for two things - playing Miss Moneypenny and having laser-focused ambition. The latter might be changing, though. The 39-old actress admitted: 'My thing was always "hard work", "succeed". Now I want to be less led by society's goals and dreams...'. Looking back on her selection as Miss Moneypenny, she said she had found it difficult to keep it a secret and was glad when it finally came out in the open: 'Having to do that whole Skyfall tour and keeping that secret was hard'. On her reprisal of the role for SPECTRE, Naomie said the character is 'Strong, powerful and independent - I think that's what people were yearning for'. In another interview, given to the BBC's Radio Times magazine (October 24th), she also praised the Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson for keeping the franchise relevant while still keeping the essence of Bond: 'You need the cars, the gadgets and the humour but you also have to move with the times. A large part of Spectre is about surveillance, how much are people delving into our private lives, collating information without us knowing. That's a huge debate around the world today and it's all reflected in the film'. Interestingly, Naomie has also helped be the key face of SONY's 'Made for Bond' new technology campaign, which has seen a tie-in mini-movie (shot on London's Southbank), and also a striking poster of Harris as Moneypenny, an image that has appeared all over London. 
Frederick Forsyth: A real-life 007?

The thriller writer Frederick Forsyth, perhaps most famously known for his best-selling novels The Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File, and who recently penned his memoirs (The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue), has sometimes been seen as an author who could have written a great James Bond novel. But what has also now emerged is that he led something of 'Bondian' existence himself in real life. In a fascinating article for the Daily Mail in July, the writer Guy Walters (himself a big expert on espionage) explored Forsyth's early career in some detail, asking whether 76-year old Forsyth had perhaps even modelled himself on Bond author Ian Fleming? Moreover, Forsyth evidently did some occasional work for MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service. The Service has often made use of journalists and writers, and this was especially the case during the Cold War. In 1963, for example, as a young 25-year old journalist, Forsyth was posted to East Berlin to cover East Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. What happened next was like something from a Fleming Bond novel: the Czech secret police sent a 'very pretty girl' to pick him up in a bar, and, after a midnight swim and the inevitable 'liaison', she revealed she was a spy. Furthermore, it is quite likely that Forsyth was feeding information back to MI6 from behind the Iron Curtain, and possibly did the same when he worked in Africa later on, possibly putting his life in great danger from capture and torture.
The Name's Bond, Samantha Bond
From present to past: Samantha Bond, who was Miss Moneypenny in Pierce Brosnan's four 007 films, still has a very loyal Bond-based following. She was back on British TV earlier this year, starring in ITV's wartime drama Home Fires. In an interview about her career in the 'Weekend' magazine of the Daily Mail (May 9), the former Moneypenny said at one point that 'there's whole generation of men who get misty-eyed when they meet me because I was their Moneypenny when they were growing up'. The ever-busy Bond has also been on British TV again recently, with a role as the formidable Lady Rosamund in the final series of Downtown Abbey. Interviewed by 'You', the magazine of the Mail on Sunday (September 27), the 007 connection was inevitably tapped into again ('The name is Bond...'), with Samantha posing in a sleek white sports car. Although it is 13 years (wow! Is it really?) since she appeared in a Bond film opposite Brosnan, the role still follows her around. She said she 'adored' Pierce and making the 007 films was a 'huge adventure', but she also admitted that: 'I'd never seen a Bond film in a cinema until I was in one'. The magazine noted that 007 fans won't let her forget her past, and Bond commented: 'They're always a bit younger than me, because they were late teens when I was Moneypenny'. Bond's next project is shooting a second series of Home Fires.
Did You Know?
In the new book The Man With The Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming's James Bond Letters, edited by Fergus Fleming, which has just been published by Bloomsbury, there is a letter written by the Bond author from April, 1958, where he reflects on James Bond's life and how 007's profession requires him to be more or less constantly involved in violent action: 'It is also true that, as in any real-life spy, when the villain gets hold of Bond, Bond is made to suffer painfully'. 

Bond Bits: Brief Items of News You Have Missed

Now, pay attention, 007: The UK toy and model maker Hornby has high hopes that SPECTRE will help its boost its Christmas sales. It has included an impressive Scalextric set themed on the new Bond film in its latest sales lists... 

From Mexico with love: ahead of her turn as a Bond woman, Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman (who is in the pre-credits of SPECTRE), gave an interview to the Sunday Times 'Style' magazine (August 30th). She said she is a particular fan of Monica Bellucci: 'I'm gonna meet her at the premiere and ask for a selfie!'...
The Italian beauty herself was profiled in The Guardian newspaper on September 19th, in a page entitled '30 minutes with Monica Bellucci'. She said she was 'proud to be a Bond lady, because actually, Bond is the most amazing man. You know why? Because he doesn't exist!'...

Licensed to spill? 
Some UK newspapers in September were fascinated by a study for The Grocer magazine (we kid you not!) on James Bond's alcohol habits. It claimed Daniel Craig's Bond is the 'booziest Bond ever', knocking back an average of 20 units per film since his debut...
Appropriately, Craig is fronting a £64million TV advertising campaign for lager-maker Heineken to coincide with the launch of SPECTRE. The lager also appears on screen in the film... 

For our ears only: The radio music channel Classic FM have been very generous to Bond fans recently. Saturday October 10th saw a John Barry special, followed just a week later (on October 17th) by a Thomas Newman special (with a first hearing for some SPECTRE soundtrack music). Brilliant stuff...

The music channel then had a SPECTRE special on October 24th, playing instrumental music from all the James Bond films, with comments from Daniel Craig, Thomas Newman and Sam Mendes...
So, which pieces of classic Bond music do Craig and Mendes prefer? Craig praised the iconic Monty Norman James Bond theme, while Mendes chose You Only Live Twice and Live and Let Die... 
And talking of the iconic sound and sheer style of 007, look out for Bond by Design: The Art of the James Bond Films, a new official book which was released earlier this month. This great book gives readers an exclusive tour of EON Productions' James Bond archives...
It explores the set, storyboard, vehicle, gadget and costume designs by the now legendary designers who have worked on the 007 movies over the years, including Sir Ken Adam, Syd Cain, Peter Murton, Peter Lamont, Allan Cameron and Dennis Gassner...
The book is written by Meg Simmonds, EON Productions' Archive Director, and reveals each Bond film's design approach, as well as a nice range of stories behind the individual designs created for each new 007 adventure...

Miss Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), speaking at a boat party in early October on a man-made island just off Butler's Wharf on London's South Bank (close to where some SPECTRE scenes were filmed), told the London Evening Standard that she was 'so excited' to reprise her role, and loves the part: 'She's really strong, powerful, dynamic, witty, and playful'. Other guests at the event included Dame Judi Dench, Moneypenny's former boss 'M'...

Dame Judi, who is now 80 years young, was a special guest on BBC Radio-4's Desert Island Discs on September 9th, and briefly touched on her iconic role as Bond's boss and how her casting came about. She also managed to keep hold of a big, big secret connected with 
SPECTRE. We will say no more...

James Bond Fan Club Newsletter

The Challenge of  
SPECTRE:Bond producers speak

During the recent SPECTRE location shooting in Mexico City, the James Bond producers - Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson - gave a detailed interview to IGN's Roth Cornet, and talked (among other things) about the first SPECTRE teaser trailer (released on March 27-28), the story continuity in the Bond series, the sheer challenge of topping Skyfall, and the question of the theme song for the new 007 adventure. When asked about the teaser trailer, which was released the day before the interview (and has been widely watched on the internet),
Michael G. Wilson said that they 'wanted to create something as a teaser that's a bit of a puzzle and a mystery. From what I saw online, people are really putting it together. It's a little puzzle people can enjoy'. His co-producer Barbara Broccoli, questioned on the continuity or not of the storyline, added that: 'It's always a challenge. We try to get the right blend of classic Bond and a contemporary twist, and come up with new storylines. I think we've done a really good job on this one'. She added that she thinks Sam Mendes 'is an amazing director and we've got a great cast and a great story. So we have to let the public decide'.
Pressure Royale

When the two EON producers were asked about the pressures of the latest entry in the series, especially after the success of Skyfall, both acknowledged the enormous challenges involved. Wilson explained: 'I think when you come off a successful film, I think all of us felt we had to keep some momentum going. We really want to come up to the plate and not try to rest on our laurels. So there were tremendous pressures there'. Similarly, referring to the fast schedule involved in producing Bond, Wilson said: 'It's a lot of pressure, it puts all of us under huge pressure. But a release date hovers there; we've all got to aim for it'. When asked about the theme song for SPECTRE, Broccoli commented: 'We're still figuring that out. That's one of the last pieces in the puzzle, but it's one of the fun things we look forward to. So it'll be awhile'. She added that they have had 'a lot of interest from a lot of exciting people. It's kind of a long list, and we're working our way through it'.
Day of the Dead
The IGN interview also covered the general casting philosophy of Broccoli and Wilson and elicited some of their impressions of the Mexico City pre-credits filming (which was still ongoing at the time, and uses the annual Mexican 'Day of the Dead' festival as a backdrop to the action). Broccoli explained that Sam Mendes is a 'real magnet for actors' when it comes to casting: 'He's a real actor's director and a great storyteller and - as it turns out, now, after these two movies - a great action director, too. So I think he's a real magnet for actors. They want to work with him. So putting a cast together is easy. They want to work with Daniel and Sam'. Wilson said they 'always try to make the pictures surprising', but also emphasised that there has to be elements in them that are 'Bondian' in the sense that people 'won't be disappointed in the picture when they go see it. So that's the fine line we've got to tread'.
Referring to the location shooting in Mexico City, which involved some complex logistical planning (including the employment of 1,500 extras, extensive set-dressing and filming of streets and buildings, and some spectacular helicopter stunts), Wilson said: 'This is a big picture... We did the carnival down in Rio (for Moonraker), and that was a big project, staging that - but this is much bigger. This is really pretty big'. Broccoli added: 'But it's a lot of fun. That's the thing... It's very exciting for everybody. It makes them step up to the plate when you have a challenge like that. Sam had a real vision of his version of the Day of the Dead, and everybody really embraced it. Tom Newman created special music for it and everything. So it feels like a big celebration to us'. On the question of how long Daniel Craig will continue as 007, Wilson said: 'We want him for as long as he'll have us', while Broccoli revealed: 'He's got an open-ended contract'.
Pre-credits 'biggest ever done'?
As the Mexican shooting neared completion, and people witnessed some of the spectacular action that was being captured by Mendes and his team in Mexico City, there was growing anticipation that the pre-credits sequence to SPECTRE is set to be the biggest opening sequence ever seen in the EON James Bond franchise. This is the result of comments from both the EON producers themselves and also the main star, Daniel Craig. EON co-producer Michael G. Wilson, for example, told the UK's popular movie magazine Empire recently that 'it is maybe the biggest sequence we've done'. Similarly, Craig - speaking to the UK's Daily Mirror newspaper when he was still filming in Mexico - commented: 'It's one of the biggest opening sequences I think the Bond franchise has ever done'. After considerable pre-shooting preparations, the main unit's filming in Mexico City took just under three weeks, and included a gritty post-explosion chase sequence on foot between Craig's Bond and Marco Sciarra (played by Alessandro Cremona). This culminated in a truly breathtaking fight sequence, with two stuntmen, shot on board a helicopter over the streets of central Mexico City.With most of the principal location shooting by the main unit now in the bag, thoughts are turning to what still needs to be carried out in London and also in Tangier, Morocco. 
Mineraker: Bond meets Moon

Daniel Craig, who took a short break after the Mexico filming to have some minor surgery on his knee in New York, was recently given a special new mission - to rid the world not of fictional super-villains, but of something equally as deadly: landmines. In a brief ceremony held at UN Headquarters in New York on April 15, the UN General-Secretary Ban Ki-Moon announced that he had appointed Daniel as the first UN advocate to campaign for the eradication of the remnants of wars around the world, devices that often linger in the ground for long periods of time and cause death or serious injury to many innocent civilians, including children. The Bond star's official title is now UN Global Advocate for the Elimination of Mines and Explosive Hazards. Mr. Ban said at a special ceremony in New York: 'As 007, Mr. Craig has a licence to kill. Today we give him a licence to save'. The UN chief also said that he was 'excited' that Craig had agreed to use his star power to draw attention to the 'noble causes of mine destruction and mine awareness'. The current Bond said he looked forward to taking up the UN's invitation to visit mine action programmes in the future, and that he was 'humbled' by his new designation. Craig, who has been a strong supporter of UN mine action over the last two years, also made a special video recently (released online) to mark the 10th anniversary of the observance of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action (designated as April 4 each year).
For Their Eyes Only: Mr. White speaks

One of the surprises about the cast for SPECTRE was the addition of Jesper Christensen, who is reprising his role as the mysterious 'Mr. White' for his third Bond film (having previously appeared in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace). He was not included in the original line-up announced at the Pinewood SPECTRE press-call back in 2014, so the news that he was back certainly created a lot of interesting speculation among Bond fans. Shortly after he completed his work on the new Bond movie, Christensen gave an interview to the Danish newspaper BT (February 2). He revealed that it was great fun to be back on the Bond set but, in response to the inevitable questions from BT about his precise role, the 66-year old actor pointed out that he could not talk about it in any detail: 'Yes, I must not say anything about the new Bond film. Well, I'm done and have made it... And I can say that it was fun'. The respected Danish actor said that his third Bond film had personally been for him the best Bond experience of them all: 'Yes, the scene was damn fine', he said, and added that he thought highly of the director Sam Mendes: 'He was such a director I like'. Christensen said that Mendes listened to his suggestions for the delivery of his lines, and he was pleased when they were accepted. 
Too Hot to Handle
Christensen also told BT that he was under strict orders to take precautions against leaks, and there was 'Jesper Christensen' and a number across every page of his own copy of the script. He said the film-makers were paranoid about leaks for good reason, 'for the whole hysteria surrounding the Bond universe is quite massively huge'. He also pointed out that an early manuscript was hacked in 'Sony-gate', so he understood the paranoia. As many fans now know, Christensen made an appearance in the first SPECTRE teaser trailer, looking somewhat different from his smart-suited appearance in his two previous Bond films. When faced with Craig's Bond in his lakeside house in the Austrian Alps, the rather dishevelled Mr. White comments to 007: 'I always knew death would wear a familiar face, but not yours'. When Bond reveals that he had recently been at a meeting, where White's name had come up, and then presents him with a ring with the iconic Sp.e.c.t.r.e 'Octopus' symbol on it, White warns: 'You're on a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mr. Bond'. Intriguing stuff. Whatever can he mean? We can't wait to find out!
Role of Honour: Christoph Waltz speaks
The main villain of SPECTRE (Franz Oberhauser) is, of course, played by the acclaimed Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, and there has been much speculation over the precise role of his character in the movie. There is certainly growing media interest in Waltz, and the British GQ magazine obtained a nice coup when they were able to interview Mr. Waltz at length for their May, 2015, issue (with the 58-year old actor also featuring prominently on the front cover). Conducted at the Corinthia Hotel in London, when Waltz was taking a break from filming, and entitled 'We've been expecting you, Mr. Waltz', the 10-page profile provided a run-down on his acting career and an opportunity to give Waltz a chance to explain his approach to cinema. GQ also tried to delicately tease out some brief details on the topic of his Bond role, something quite brave to do with the notoriously cautious Waltz. First of all, the magazine noted that Waltz, in general conversation, is engaging, amusing and inventive - until you broach the subject of his own life, at which point he becomes evasive and very guarded. As GQ noted, Waltz was unknown to most English-speaking audiences until Quentin Tarantino had the wit to cast him as SS Colonel Hans Lada in the quirky and entertaining Inglorious Basterds (2009), and his Oscar-winning performance (followed by another Oscar for Tarantino's Django Unchained in 2012) gave him sudden global recognition after decades of trying. Waltz was especially praised for the way he delivered his lines in both movies and appeared to enliven the scripts even more.
Live and Let High
Tackled on the question of whether the Bond series can also help him realise the same high spirit of artistic endeavour, Waltz told GQ: 'A James Bond film can be artistically fulfilling. Absolutely it can. It can be complex and it can be interesting. I consider Bond movies to be an extension of popular theatre, a kind of modern mythology'. When he was asked whether he hesitated before agreeing to appear in Bond 24, Waltz commented: 'I did, yes. I always hesitate... You ask yourself, hang on: what James Bond are we talking about?' He then explained: 'The thing about Spectre is that it is not the work of hack writers. It does not have a hack director. The actors are not hams'. Waltz also revealed that the new movie does include some scenes that will resonate with old-school Bond aficionados: 'The action scenes in Mexico are extravagant to say the least. The scenes in Austria are traditional Bond in the snow'.
He added: 'These films with Daniel Craig have shifted the tone. They don't depend on a set formula that forces actors simply to go through the motions'. Interestingly, Waltz confirmed that he did not have to audition for his role in the movie, and the role was, in a way, written for him: 'Let's say it was tweaked in my direction'. However, he also strongly denied rumours that he is playing James Bond's long-standing nemesis, Blofeld: 'That is absolutely untrue. That rumour started on the internet, and the internet is a pest. The name of my character is Franz Oberhauser'.   
The Living Stagelights: 'M' plans ahead
Shhh! Eyes only, 007: that man Blofeld certainly causes a lot of secrecy among his opponents, including at the very top of MI6: according to the Mail On Sunday (April 5), Ralph Fiennes, who plays the new 'M' Gareth Mallory in SPECTRE, commented recently: 'All I can say is that my hair has more chance of playing Blofeld's cat than I have of being allowed to reveal the plot of the new Bond film'. Interestingly, journalist Baz Bamigboye revealed in his showbiz column in sister paper The Daily Mail (March 27) that his involvement with the 007 franchise is allowing Fiennes to spend more time on the stage, the great love of his life. The 'healthy' pay cheque that Fiennes gets from his Bond commitments gives him the freedom to venture more into the theatre. He has been wowing audiences in G.B. Shaw's Man and Superman at the National Theatre on London's Thames embankment, and in January and February, 2016, he is due to play Ibsen's emotionally flawed architect Halvard Solness in a new version of The Master Builder, which will run at the Old Vic theatre. The ever-busy Mr. Fiennes is also in talks to do some Shakespeare at the Almeida theatre later in 2016 or possibly in 2017. In the meantime, the JBIFC understands that Fiennes, who shot his first new scenes as 'M' for SPECTRE last December, carried out some more filming work on the new movie during April, and is back on the Bond set this month (May) to complete further takes for his role as Mallory.
Licence to Spill

As far back as April, 2014, the movie trade magazine Variety claimed that award-winning actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (of 12 Years a Slave fame) was a contender for a role in Bond 24. At the time, according to un-named sources, the acclaimed British star was said to be a strong contender for the role of lead villain. It now turns out that this report had some truth to it. Interestingly, according to a recent report in The Times (April 20), which was in turn based on some more of the recent illegally-leaked Sony Pictures e-mails, it has emerged that Hollywood executives considered casting Ejiofor as Bond's nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld! Ejiofor, who won a BAFTA for his portrayal of the black slave Solomon Northup in the 2013 movie, apparently told the Bond director Sam Mendes that year that he wanted to play Blofeld (if we are to believe an e-mail exchange between executives). In another e-mail exchange, some further beans are spilled (so to speak): the possibility of a female Blofeld was also floated, and three-times Oscar winner Meryl Streep was touted to play the role - one executive remarked that Blofeld as a woman 'is idiotic unless Meryl Streep does it'. Intriguing, to say the least: perhaps SPECTRE nearly became The Property of a Lady? Now... we know our Ernst was into plastic surgery in a big way, and also sometimes dressed as a woman for a quick escape, but would he be desperate enough to have a complete gender change operation?!
The Man with the Golden Voice

The JBIFC was sad to learn of the recent death of actor and dubbing expert Robert Rietti, who passed away on April 3. As a film, television and radio actor, Rietti was arguably best-known for his highly memorable and versatile voice, and was often in big demand for his ability to dub multiple roles, using different accents (exemplified in his work for the epic movie Waterloo in 1970). In many ways, he was one of the great unsung heroes behind the scenes in the film world, but when employed on dubbing his name was often absent, which was a source of frustration for him. As well as speaking English, he was also fluent in Italian, German, French and Russian. Moreover, any Bond fan worth his salt will also know that Rietti had some significant involvement in the James Bond films, starting with Dr. No (1962), where he was the voice of secret agent John Strangways. The latter was killed in the opening scenes, of course, but minutes later Rietti was providing the voice for someone else - as one of the Baccarat players in the London casino! More importantly, Rietti dubbed the Italian actor Adolfo Celi's voice as villain Emilio Largo in Thunderball (1965), and also dubbed the Japanese actor Tetsuro Tamba as Tiger Tanaka in You Only Live Twice (1967). When John Hollis appeared in the pre-credits to For Your Eyes Only (1981) - as the un-named Ernst Stavro Blofeld - it is Robert Rietti's distinctive voice that we hear threatening Roger Moore's Bond in the helicopter cabin sequences: 'Really, Mr. Bond! Have you no respect for the dead?'

Nobody Did it Better

Interestingly, Rietti also appeared on-screen, too, as one of the staff in the casino in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), and also had a small role in Never Say Never Again (1983), which was apparently arranged by Kevin McClory as a 'thank you' to his old friend from the Thunderball days. In all, Rietti worked on seven Bond movies. He told Empire magazine in 1994: 'In nearly every Bond picture there's been a foreign villain and in almost every case they've used my voice'. After Thunderball Adolfo Celi was showered with offers of other film work, and Rietti came as part of the package (so to speak); as he quipped to the BBC's Film 94 TV programme, 'I had a job for life!' On the 1974 Agatha Christie adaptation And Then There Were None, for example, he re-voiced Celi as well as four other parts, including the German actor Gert Frobe (Goldfinger)! Celi was an army General and Frobe was a police official in the movie.Interestingly, when actor Robert Shaw ('Red' Grant in From RussiaWith Love) died in 1978, Rietti was called in to dub Shaw's voice in parts of three movies for which Shaw had not completed the recording. Rietti styled himself 'The Man With a Thousand Voices' - and one can certainly see why! R.I.P., Robert. But your voice lives on.
Double-O Heaven: Film mags cover SPECTRE

One of the great pleasures of witnessing the production of a new 007 adventure is seeing which of the popular British film magazines will be the first with detailed Bond coverage designed to wet our appetites. The ball quickly got rolling not long after Christmas. First came Total Film (April, 2015, issue), which carried two pages on SPECTRE, including early photos from the snowbound Austrian scenes. With a run-down on the key locations, and a page on 'Everything you need to know about Bond's bĂȘte noire' (i.e. the Sp.e.c.t.r.e. organisation), the magazine commented that the new film 'is shaping up to be the most globe-trotting Bond to date. Our ex-spectre-tions are running sky high on this one'. Meanwhile, Empire (April, 2015, issue)took things much further, with a 14-page profile (no less) of SPECTRE and other aspects of the James Bond universe, plus an excellent Daniel Craig cover-page. The magazine had been allowed special access to the set at Pinewood Studios, and included interviews with the Bond producers and also with Bond's new leading women, French beauty Lea Seydoux and gorgeous Italian star Monica Bellucci. There were also comments from stunt co-ordinator Gary Powell and Dave Bautista (who plays henchman 'Mr. Hinx'). According to Bautista, Hinx will be a 'badass' but will also have a sense of humour. He also commented 'James Bond and Mr. Hinx are not friends'. Oh dear, sounds like our James is in for a very tough time! Thanks Empire - a great issue: you did Bond fans a real service. More, please. 
Big on Bond: Yaphet Kotto interviewed

Acclaimed actor Yaphet Kotto, who was, of course, an excellent 'Mr. Big' (and Dr. Kananga) in Live and Let Die (1973), gave a rare and welcome interview to the UK's weekly magazine The Big Issue on April 9. Unsurprisingly, the veteran actor offered some forthright views, including some (arguably very sensible) comments on the latest stage in the 'Black Bond' debate that seems to have become something of an obsession with journalists. According to Kotto: 'James Bond cannot be black. Political correctness be damned, we have to stay with what is literally correct. He was established by Ian Fleming as a white character, played by white actors. It's silly. Play 003 or 006 but you cannot be 007. A lot of people say we should be allowed to play everything. Don't be ridiculous. If I say I want to play JFK I should be laughed out the room. Why should James Bond be black? It's silly'. He continued: 'I don't think it's right for black actors or writers to do roles that whites have made historically white heroic roles. These roles were not written for black men. Black men should stop trying to play white heroes. We have pens. Put a black man in a role that no one else has established'. Concerning his role as 'Mr. Big', Kotto agreed that his role could have been a terrible stereotype: 'That was the danger of that role. When I read the script, I said man, if this is played the wrong way... I had to play Kananga in a way that was so believable you became mesmerised. You see a guy who is completely together - almost together as James Bond himself'. Regarding his wider film career, Kotto confirmed that he chose roles that would change the black stereotype on screen: 'That was my plan, to play parts that would open up the doors for others, and it worked'. Kotto, who is a member of the Academy in Hollywood, said movies should be 'judged on the integrity of their creative art and not political reasons'.
Golden Touch: Honor Blackman interviewed

The UK's popular Daily Mirror newspaper (April 7) carried an interesting interview with former Goldfinger (Pussy Galore) star Honor Blackman, who is now an amazing 89-years old and is still taking occasional TV roles, the latest being a part in the comedy YouMe and Them, alongside Anthony Head and Eve Myles. Blackman became a household name in the UK back in 1962 when she took what soon became the iconic role of leather-clad karate-chopping Cathy Gale in TV's spy drama The Avengers, opposite Patrick Macnee. But it was really Goldfinger that elevated her to international stardom, and still brings her fan mail even today. Interestingly, Honor was asked by the Mirror what she thought of the latest 007 star Daniel Craig? She revealed that she felt Craig delivers a more multi-dimensional character than Sean Connery could: 'I'm sorry to say he's a better actor - but I think Sean would acknowledge that. I think Dan is terrific. He's capable of so much more. Sean was perfection as Bond only as Ian Fleming wrote it. He was a Mr. Universe entrant, he was handsome and very, very sexy and had that ridiculous accent. Now it is no longer like Ian Fleming, it's more like The Bourne Identity. It's a different kind of film. But that doesn't make any difference to the fact they're super films and Daniel is probably the best actor that ever played Bond'. Honor, who turns 90 this summer, revealed to the Mirror that she is suffering from scoliosis, a back condition that gradually twists the spine. As a result she is set to bring her long and distinguished career to an end; 'By the end of this year I'll probably chuck it in. It'd be a great regret because my career has been so interesting - some of it fun, some of it torture - but it has filled my life. It's an effort at this stage of life. And since nobody is forcing me to make it, I don't see any point in putting myself through it'. We still love you, Honor! May the force be with you.

Did You Know?

Bond producer Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli once said that Honor Blackman was cast opposite Sean Connery in Goldfinger because of her success as the popular black-leathered judo expert Cathy Gale in The Avengers spy series on British TV, alongside Patrick MacNee. Broccoli knew, of course, that most American cinema-goers would not have seen the British TV programme, but he reasoned: 'The Brits would love her because they knew her as Mrs. Gale, the Yanks would like her because she was so good. It was a perfect combination'. 
Bond Bits: Brief Items of News You May Have Missed
Never say never: Australian actor Rod Taylor, who sadly passed away in January, aged 84, arguably saw his career really take off in Hollywood with The Time Machine in 1960. According to his obituaries, shortly afterwards he was asked to test for a small British movie, but declined. The name of the movie? Dr. No...

Taylor once recalled: 'Producer Cubby Broccoli wanted me to screen test for James Bond, when he was preparing Dr. No in 1961. I refused because I thought it was beneath me. I didn't think Bond would be successful in the movies. That was one of the greatest mistakes of my career. Every time a new Bond picture became a smash hit, I tore my hair out! Cubby and I have laughed about it ever since'... 

Taylor did, of course, play a kind of reluctant Bond-style secret agent, Brian 'Boysie' Oakes, in The Liquidator (1965), based on the first 'Boysie' Oakes novel written in 1964 by new author John Gardner...
The movie, which also starred Jill St. John and had a theme song by Shirley Bassey, was apparently planned by MGM to be the first in a Boysie Oakes series, designed to tap into the spy-mania of the mid-1960s. But the movie did not generate enough money at the box office, so the plans were quietly dropped...

Jill St. John and Shirley Bassey were reunited (in a sense) for Diamonds Are Forever (1971), while John Gardner, of course, was commissioned to resurrect the James Bond novels for the 1980s, starting with Licence Renewed in 1981...

For special services - a blue plaque for the first 'M': Sir Mansfield Cumming (1859-1923), the first head of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), was commemorated on March 30 with a special blue English Heritage plaque outside his London office (2 Whitehall Court)...
Cumming, a former Admiral in the Royal Navy, wrote in green ink and signed his secret memos and correspondence 'C', and this is thought to have influenced Ian Fleming when he created Bond's boss 'M'. The green ink and 'C' habits were continued by Cumming's successors, and this is generally seen now as standing for 'Chief' of MI6...

The blue plaque was unveiled in the presence of the current 'C', Alex Younger, who made his first public speech since taking over as MI6 Chief in October, 2014. He described the similarity between the secret service created by Cumming in 1909 and the MI6 of today, calling both of them small organisations achieving big things. One journalist present wondered if this included the prevention of World War Three by a certain Mr. E.S. Blofeld?! Funnily enough, we wondered that, too...

The famous British satirical magazine Private Eye has had a lot of gentle fun with the new Bond movie SPECTRE in recent months. Not long after the special press event at Pinewood to announce the film and introduce the principal cast, Private Eye (December 12) carried a photo entitled 'New "Older" Bond Girl' - which turned out to be Daniel Craig with the Queen of England!...

The magazine was back for more quips a short while later (December 20). Covering embarrassing real-life allegations about MI6's possible knowledge of secret use of torture by the CIA, Private Eye gave a 'Bond' angle to them. Tapping into the 'Sony-gate' leaks, the mag carried what it called 'That leaked James Bond movie script - redacted version', with key bits of dialogue heavily blanked out, but with an interesting conversation between Felix Leiter and 007 set in a dungeon: Bond asked: 'Do you expect him to talk?', to which Felix responded: 'No, Mr. ----, I expect him to die!'...

Bond girls 'Torture Galore', 'Plenty O'Violence', and 'Solitaire Confinement' were also featured in the 'leaked script', dancing to the hit Bond theme 'Lie and Let Die'!...

Recently, in March, Private Eye used the news about how young teenagers were being 'radicalised' into terrorism by internet sites to carry a piece which asked 'Was Ernst Blofeld Radicalised by MI6?' According to this, 'Close friends of Ernst Stavro Blofeld have insisted that Ernst was a quiet, friendly, studious chap and that his desire to bring Western civilisation to its knees only happened as a result of numerous encounters with James Bond'...

The friend added: 'Ernst was just going about his business, peacefully planning world domination from his secret lair, but James Bond just wouldn't leave him alone... But for MI6 and James Bond harassing him, I'm certain Blofeld and his global criminal organisation SPECTRE would never have caused anyone the slightest bit of trouble'. Was this 'friend' named Irma Bunt, by chance??... 

Has Idris Elba finally put to bed the constant rumours linking him to Bond, the ones that are so beloved by the UK press? It was a rumour that started on the internet, was not taken seriously by most people, and then seemed to snowball out of all proportion. According to the London Evening Standard (March 19) ('Elba dashes Bond hopes'), the actor - who previously encouraged the 007 speculation - has now said that he's not interested: 'Nah, I'm too old now. It's nice to be described as a classy British brand but, you know, it's just a massive rumour. I think I've probably put the Bond team off even thinking about me now because I've talked so much about it'... 

Author William Boyd, who penned the James Bond novel Solo, was at BAFTA's Piccadilly HQ in London on April 1, attending a short story event. At one point, he was asked by a fan when he would return to film-making? Boyd's only directorial effort remains The Trench, released in 1999, which starred a young actor named Daniel Craig and an even younger new actor named Ben Whishaw! Boyd responded: 'The film is famous because of the then very unknown actors, and now they're very successful'. He laughed: 'So of course they owe it all to me! I will do it again one day. But it's also very hard work, and we're very spoilt and lazy, us novelists: working until late in the night isn't quite what one signed up for'...

The latest author to take up the challenge of writing a James Bond novel, Anthony Horowitz, announced in January that, after 13 highly successful years, his popular TV detective series Foyle's War has now definitely come to an end...

The series, which starred Michael Kitchen (Bill Tanner in two of Pierce Brosnan's Bond movies), saw the very final episode air on the UK's ITV channel on Sunday, January 8. Sunday nights will never be the same again! The series regularly drew in very large audiences...

Horowitz, who has written an astonishing 42 books, including two Sherlock Holmes novels, has been able to use some original unused Ian Fleming material short-story material for part of his new 007 novel, which is set in the 1950s...

When Bassey met Bros: former James Bond Pierce Brosnan looked resplendent in black bow tie and tuxedo when he attended the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London on April 29, where the philanthropic organisation 'Lots of Charity' held a dinner. Three-times Bond singer Dame Shirley Bassey was also in attendance...  

Brosnan, whose gritty spy movie November Man hit the screens in 2014, is now currently developing a new entry in what could be a November Man franchise of films. The new movie is being developed by Pierce in conjunction with his long-time producing partner Beau St. Clair and their successful Irish Dream Time film company...

Samantha Bond, who was Miss Moneypenny in Brosnan's four 007 films, is back on British TV, starring in ITV's wartime drama Home Fires. In an interview about her career in the 'Weekend' magazine of the Daily Mail (May 9), the former Moneypenny said at one point that 'there's whole generation of men who get misty-eyed when they meet me because I was their Moneypenny when they were growing up'...

For Your Ears Only: former Bond composer David Arnold has three concerts of his film music lined up for June in the UK: David's special 'A Night at the Movies' concerts will be held at the London Barbican on June 18, the Birmingham Symphony Hall on June 26, and Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall on June 28...

Now, pay attention 007: The Bond team have been doing a lot of teasing with the release of photos of their clapperboards. The official still of the clapper-board from the set of SPECTRE dated May 1 was most intriguing: a powerful-looking motorbike, equipped with two lethal-looking machine-guns. It has already led to loads of speculation...

The latest clapperboard (dated May 9) was also tantalising: it showed a boat moored indoors, looking very much like the one we saw in during the early stages of SPECTRE filming in central London. We tried to contact the MI6 chief-of-staff Bill Tanner at the Vauxhall Bridge HQ to find out more. But, for some reason, the telephone line was still out of action...

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