007 is not the only number

You will have to forgive me because today I am going to talk about my subject: James Bond, known worldwide as 007. And I cannot think of a better start than quoting the first paragraph of my book, James Bond: Behind the Tuxedo (the best Christmas gift even in June, by the way!): “Bond, James Bond”… these three famous words, heard in the 1962 cinemas, introduced the whole world to James, the longest and possibly most beloved movie character of all time. However, it was in 1953 that the world first read those words in the book, Casino Royale.». And I might be right, because Dr No, the British Spy’s first adventure, premiered 57 years ago, and, in 2012, Sir Roger Moore (the third lucky actor to play 007), wrote in his book Bond on Bond that “more than half of the world’s population has seen at least one of the [Bond] films.”

It seems that “007” is not only a iconic number for the series. In total there have been 6 Bonds. Moore held the record, having been at Her Majesty’s service for 5,118 days. However, yesterday, Saturday 18th, Daniel Craig, surpassed him, having been on duty for the last 5,119 days –almost 14 years–, a figure that will be even higher in April 2020, when what appears to be Craig’s last film, No Time to Die is released. In addition, the longest-running film franchise of all time has racked up the exorbitant financial figure of £12,583,241,665.43 (don’t worry if you have trouble reading it, you are not alone!); 2012’s Skyfall earned £940,052,368.12, but Thunderball (1965) is still currently the highest grossing film when adjusted for inflation.

A total of 405 villains have been killed. Pierce Brosnan is, by far, the bloodiest Bond of all: he ended up taking the life of 135 enemies in his 4 movies. The least tough Bond is, without any doubt, George Lazenby with his puny total of 5 deaths. Although this is understandable considering that the Australian only appeared in one movie.

And, of course, we all know that all women want to be with Bond. There have been 58 romantic encounters throughout the twenty-three films. Yet it’s funny that Lazenby is the luckiest, since he had 3 of those specials meetings in his only movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. There have been at least 78 Bond Girls –without counting Dame Judi Dench, who agreed to play Bond’s boss M because her husband (the late actor Michael Williams) “wanted to sleep with a Bond Girl” and the talented Naomie Harris, who has played Eve Moneypenny perfectly well since 2012. Speaking of her, Harris’ new film, Black and Blue (out on the 25th of October), seems to make clear that she is ready to take over Craig, although when I told her that the other day she babbled and laughed, and said “no one could take over Daniel!”.

Bond has consumed a wide range of concoctions, proving that he is happy to drink whatever is in front of him. However, he shows a preference for cocktails, including the Vesper Martini (“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half of Kina Lillet [flavoured French wine] and a lemon peel. Shaken, not stirred.”). Having drunk 85 units of alcohol in the space of four films, Craig’s Bond is the most intoxicated of all, with more than 21 units per movie: 26 drinks in Casino Royale (2006) and 25 during 2015’s Spectre. A couple of years ago, a team formed, amongst others, by my friend Dr Graham Johnson, concluded that Bond should have died at the age of 56, as did his literary creator Ian Fleming. Due to his health, Fleming was limited by his doctor to drink a maximum of 3 ounces of liquor per day, so he asked the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (the writer also worked in the Government) to determine which drink had the “highest alcohol content”.

Speaking of years, Bond's age is a mystery: in Moonraker he says he has eight years left before turning 45, which would mean he was 37 at that time (and 77 now). John Pearson in his fictional but very detailed biography gives him a birth date of November 11, 1920 (he would, therefore, turn 98 in less than a month), while Bond scholar John Griswold states that he would have been born on November 11, 1921 and Fleming’s novels take place between May 1951 and February 1964, when Bond was 42 years old. Finally, the acquisition of a Bentley in 1933 would mean that he was already earning a decent salary, which would delay his birth age to 1908 (in 2019 he would have needed rather a lot of candles on his cake, 111 to be precise!).

As the filming of No Time to Die is coming to an end (and we all look forward to its arrival in theatres around the world –literally!), ‘winter is coming’ (as said by 006, Sean Bean) and it is the perfect time to look back. This year marks the anniversary of four of the films: 50 years of On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969, this being the first time a black woman appeared in the films), 40 of Moonraker (1979, starring Roger Moore), 30 years of License to Kill (1989, with twice Bond Timothy Dalton) and 20 years of The World is Never Enough (1999, with Pierce Brosnan as 007, Dame Judi Dench’s M and a very attractive femme fatale, Sophie Marceau playing Elektra).

And the best thing about this franchise is that we don’t have to worry (as long as James Bond is what he has to be) because if they have not let us down in 57 years, why would they do it in the next 60? I do not honestly think anyone looks forward to Mission Impossible number 25 with the same enthusiasm half the world is waiting for the James Bond film number 25, entitled, as you already know, No Time to Die. As always and as we all know and hope, “James Bond will return.