It was one of those conversations around the bar where the subjects ranged far and wide.
“Who was the first James Bond?” asked Rag, a friend who is also a quiz compiler and so is always a font of interesting information.
“Sean Connery,” someone said.
“No,” said Rag. “Bob Holness.”
Holness was the avuncular quiz master of the 1980s student game show Blockbusters which made him an unlikely figure to play 007.
But he did.
I did an internet search and found he played Bond in a radio adaptation of Moonraker in South Africa in 1956. But, sorry Rag, he wasn’t the first to play the role.
That distinction went to American Barry Nelson in a CBS television adaptation of Casino Royale in 1954.
Which led me to wonder how many Bonds there had been.
Believe it or not, I found 19.
Sean Connery was the first big screen Bond in 1962 and made Ian Fleming’s hero into an international superstar. The other actors who have been Bond in the franchise movie series are George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.
That makes eight. But wait, there’s more.
The opening sequence for Dr No in 1962 looked at Bond down the barrel of an assassin’s gun.
Bond turned and shot the hitman and blood dripped down the screen and the credits rolled.
This was first filmed with stuntman Bob Simmons playing Bond and the sequence wasn’t re-shot with Connery until Goldfinger.
Christopher Cazenove played 007 in the Omnibus TV documentary The British Hero in 1973 and Michael Jayston and Toby Stephens have played him in BBC Radio 4 productions.
That makes 12 and I’m still not finished.
The spoof version of Casino Royale in 1967 had David Niven in the role as a retired super-spy who takes over the secret service when M is killed. In a cunning bid to confuse his deadly enemy, he names all his agents James Bond.
Which is why it could be claimed that Terence Cooper, Woody Allen, Joanna Pettet, Daliah Lavi, Peter Sellers and Ursula Andress all played Bond.
Which makes a grand total of 19.
Before any films were made writer Ian Fleming had his own ideas about what Bond looked like.
He pictured him as Hoagy Carmichael, the piano player in the Bogart and Bacall classic To Have and Have Not.
But when he saw Connery in the part he changed his mind.
He thought Sean was such a perfect fit for the character that he even invented a back history of Bond’s Scottish ancestry.
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