Bond is back! 007 fans are in for a special treat this coming Easter weekend when Toby Stephens returns as James Bond in a new BBC Radio-4 adaptation of Ian Fleming’s third novel, Moonraker (1955).

As with with the previous BBC adaptations, the new version of Moonraker comes from the highly successful producing team of Rosalind Ayres and Martin Jarvis, and has been dramatized again by writer Archie Scottney. Moreover, apart from the introduction of Winston Churchill into the story, it promises to be very faithful to the original novel, which was based solely in Britain and featured one of Fleming’s most memorable villains, Sir Hugo Drax.

The plot-line in Fleming’s best-selling book saw Bond, at ‘M’s request, visit his MI6 chief’s private club in London, and confirm ‘M’s suspicions about Drax: that, while he may be a national hero, Drax is also a card cheat. Bond investigates further. The main action thus takes place in the county of Kent in the 1950s, and involves an atomic rocket project being overseen by the apparently patriotic Sir Hugo. However, Drax (as all Fleming aficionados will know) is not just a simple card cheat, but is also hugely treacherous. He is playing a double-game: he is only masquerading as a British subject, and turns out to be the main villain of the story, a man with secret Nazi sympathies who is intent on destroying London in revenge.

Now in the employ of the Soviet Union, Drax is secretly planning to aim his new rocket at Britain’s capital city, but Bond, in an alliance with undercover police-woman Gala Brand, manages to thwart Drax’s evil plan, and they re-programme the rocket to destroy the submarine that Drax is using to escape.

The role of Drax will be played by the distinguished actor Samuel West, while the equally key role of Gala Brand has gone to Katherine Kingsley. Some other regulars from previous Ayres and Jarvis productions also return: John Standing as ‘M’, Julian Sands as ‘Q’, and Janie Dee as Moneypenny. Producer Martin Jarvis will once again be the voice of Ian Fleming.

Broadcast details: Moonraker will be broadcast on BBC Radio-4 on Saturday, 31st March, 2018, at 2.30-4.00pm, GMT.

Did You Know?

A radio adaptation of Fleming’s third novel was once broadcast in South Africa, with Bob Holness as 007. Holness later became the host of a popular teatime quiz show, Blockbusters, in the UK.

Publicity photo of Bond author Ian Fleming in the 1950s